Back in 1982, Anne Herbert scribbled the words ?Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty? on a paper place mat in a Sausalito restaurant. At the time the San Francisco peace activist had no way of knowing her words would eventually spread like a slow, warm, flame across the globe. She only knew the phrase, which she had been turning over in her mind for days, was worth writing down. That slow spread began immediately when a man sitting nearby saw what she had written and said, ?That?s wonderful.? He then proceeded to carefully copy the words down on his own place mat.
It is easy to talk about what is wrong with the world today. The violence. The crime. The corruption. The misery. The suffering.
What doesn?t come so easily are solutions. After all, what can you do?
You?re only one person. You?re not likely to make any difference. An all too familiar lament, for which there is the best rebuttal quote of all, ?Never underestimate the power of one person to change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.?
Even if you can?t see yourself pursuing World Peace or the eradication of illness, at the very least you can commit a few daily random acts of kindness. If Santa Claus were a verb instead of a noun, the jolly man would be described as ?an anonymous kindness.? What a great job Santa has! And not just because of the cookies. Until you do a little Santa job sharing you have no idea what a wonderful feeling it leaves behind. So often you hear volunteers say they do it as much for themselves as for others, because to give is the greatest feeling in the world. Who knew they weren?t just being modest? Studies have shown that volunteers live happier, healthier and longer lives.
Being a painfully shy person, who is only comfortable talking to my computer screen, I admire people who can stride into hospitals, youth groups, or long term care centres and leave sunshine and laughter in their wake. Even great Random Kindness suggestions such as telling the coffee shop server that I would like to buy coffee for the next five customers, or ditto to the bus driver for the next five fares, leave me stammering. More appealing to me are the acts that lend themselves to Ninja like tactics. Where you swoop in and out and no-one is the wiser. Like Santa shooting up and down the chimney while everyone is fast asleep.
After visiting several Random Kindness sites on the Internet, I have come up with a list of acts for fellow introverted Santa wannabes:
Buy a lottery ticket and put it under a stranger?s windshield wiper
After shovelling your walk or mowing your lawn, do the same for a neighbour while they?re away from home.
Put money in a parking meter that has expired.
Go to a playground and leave coins where children will find them
When you?re at a restaurant write something nice about your server on the bill
Return your shopping cart to the store but don?t retrieve your money. Leave it untethered for the next person.
Pick up trash in your neighbourhood.
Write letters to service groups or individuals thanking them for their efforts
Be courteous in traffic and parking lots. When the light ahead is red anyway, stop to let someone back out of a parking spot, or make that left hand turn into the traffic flow.
Leave little notes to brighten someone?s day
Never doubt that these small acts can help make the world a happier place. Wouldn?t you feel happier if someone did these things for you?
When compiling that list of New Year Resolutions, why not add the words of Charles Dickens, ?I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.?
Choosing to commit random acts of kindness throughout the year is the perfect way to do just that.
Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River Country. www.shannon-mckinnon.com