What to Do With a Random Act of Kindness

Wow.  So for those of you who were hanging around my Facebook page yesterday, you probably saw me post about an amazing random act of kindness that was perpetrated on me.  A coworker (I’m pretty sure I know who but haven’t’ confirmed it) slipped me a $20 bill all ninja-style and stealthily.  No note, no explanation, she didn’t even own up to it when I asked if it was her.  So how do I know she did it?

Well, earlier in the day I had laughingly said that I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it home that night because my car was almost out of gas and I didn’t have the money to fill it up until we got paid today.  Granted, my car did make it home without sputtering and dying, and I’m sure I could have found some pennies somewhere to pay for gas if I was really desperate.  But that doesn’t matter.  This lovely coworker saw a way that she could help someone and discretely moved in and did it.

Okay, I’ll admit it.  I felt just a little awkward.  My thoughts instantly zipped to “Wait, I didn’t give off the impression that I was desperate or begging or anything, did I?”

But after I thought about it for a while, and after I took a poll of my Facebook family, I shook that thought off.  My wonderful coworker was just being nice.  Super nice.  Oh, and she also brought me a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte because we had been talking about that too.  I feel incredibly blessed to have her as part of my daily life.

And then I started thinking….

We hear about random acts of kindness and the beauty of paying it forward all the time.  We talk about charity in action and treating our fellow men with love and respect.  Everyone knows that it’s good to do kind things for people.  But for all the publicity that doing the right thing and being a good person get, we never really teach each other how to receive kindness.

How many times has someone complimented you only to have you contradict them?  “That’s a great shirt you’re wearing!”  “Really?  This?  It’s nothing.”  “You’re looking good!  Have you been working out?”  “Who, me?  I’m a lazy slob!”  “You smell good.”  “Ugh, I stink.”  You know what I’m talking about.  I’m not exactly sure why, but a lot of us live in a world where we just can’t take a compliment.

But it goes beyond that.  Not only is it hard for us to accept compliments, it’s even harder for us to accept help.  My first reaction when I realized someone had given me money was to protest that I was not that poor.  I’m not!  I swear!  Although I do have to tread a lot of water to keep afloat and I don’t have any help to do it.  I’m proud of my independence though.  I identify myself by it.  This is who I am!

And that’s who my dear coworker is.  She’s a wonderful person.  I’ve known that for four years.  That’s what started me thinking that the best way to honor her kindness and her generosity is not to return the money, which was my first impulse, but to pay it forward.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Have you made a friend today?
© Shailesh Nanal | Dreamstime.com

Still, it’s hard to adjust your thinking from being the do-er of generous things to being the do-ee.  It can feel strange, awkward.  We can feel like we don’t really need it or like we don’t really deserve it.  But if we outright stop it then we’re stopping the flow.  No one wants to stop the flow of good in this world!  We need goodness far too much.So I’m going to take that money, or the spirit of it at least, and be on the lookout for someone who needs a helping hand.  Something might come up tomorrow or it might wait a year.  But the time will come.  And I would encourage all of you to take the spirit of that $20 and pay it forward as well.  If you know someone who needs a boost, then boost away.  Even further, if you find yourself in a position where someone is offering you an act of kindness, accept that act with gratitude.  Hard though it may be, don’t shut it down.  Let’s fill this world with goodness and love!

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6 thoughts on “What to Do With a Random Act of Kindness

  1. Yes, often we have to learn to receive love as well as give it. That’s how we truly connect with others. This is a lovely post.

  2. This is a great post–I feel like it’s been written for me. I love to do things for others, but struggle with accepting help and kindness of all forms. I feel like saying, “No, don’t waste your kindness on me–give it to someone else because they need it/deserve it/etc more and I’m fine, really!”

    But this is dumb–it only lessens the good feeling they get from performing the kindness. And you’re right–we need as much kindness in the world as we can get.

    Ironically, releasing a book has taught me about receiving kindness. Rather than reacting like the above when someone does something nice like tweet about it or refer the book to friends and tell me about it, I just say thank you and show my gratitude. In my daily life, I am getting better at saying thank you rather than acting like I don’t deserve it so they shouldn’t have done it. This post was a good reminder, so thank you so much for writing it! 🙂

    Angela Ackerman

  3. I have always thought that people who accept compliments graciously come over as charming and sophisticated. I teach my children to thank someone when they receive a compliment. It’s rude to dismiss someone’s considered and generously proffered opinion. And I think a RAOK is one of the most delightful, life affirming things we can do. Most definitely pay it forward!

  4. I actually had a random act of kindness happen to me yesterday as well! I was sitting in a mall cafeteria, and I decided I really wanted some noodles. So I went over to the Chinese takeout place, and I walked up and explained that I wanted some noodles – not a huge serving, just a little one to satisfy my craving. So the man behind the counter slops a bunch of noodles onto a plate and hands it to me free of charge! People can be so nice, sometimes 🙂

  5. Hi Merry, this is just to let you know that I’ve tagged you with the WIP Challenge (http://deberelene.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/work-in-progress-challenge/). You don’t have to participate, but I’d be interested to hear what you’re working on.

    Oh! And RAOK are awesome! I don’t get many chances to do them, but I like think I’m slowly building some karma here and there when I can.

    And you’re right about accepting compliments. We aren’t really taught that, by tradition. And here in New Zealand, we have a real adverse reaction to who we consider “Tall Poppies”, which can make it doubly difficult to accept praise!

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