I was in a conversation recently where the idea of paying for the car behind you in a drive thru came up - and it was a new idea to some people. Which kind of shocked me! That specific version of paying it forward or random acts of kindness has even made the news so I was shocked that someone found it to be a new idea.
So it got me thinking - maybe there are other kind gestures people do that others simply hadn't thought of and maybe making a list of some of those things would be a cool thing to blog about.
So I went to my social network and asked people for input. Tell me your favorite acts of kindness, compassion, charitable care and giving. I assumed I'd get a list of - pay for the car behind me, leave flowers with a cashier and ask that they give a flower to anyone who seems to need it, leave a dollar on the vending machine, and so on.
Instead, I got a bigger lesson than that.
People shared stories of seeing a need or having a need and it being met by friends, family, and even strangers. Stopping to help an emergency situation. Paying for the car behind you - but from the perspective of a manager of a fast food restaurant and her sharing the joyful impact it has on her employees. A single mom who struggled and had people reach out to offer aid. Paying for someone's train ride when they realized they didn't have their ticket.
But every message I read had the same theme.
I had a need and someone saw it and filled it.
I saw a need and found a way to fill it.
So I thought I was going to come up with a list of 20 ways to show kindness.
Instead, I got some valuable inspiration on awareness and compassion.
Keep your eyes and heart open. When you become aware of a need... when you see a place where you can help... when you are aware of an opportunity to make life better for someone (even if it's just buying their lunch or giving them a big smile)...
Do it. We each have such individual power. We don't need permission to be compassionate. And if you do need permission - I'm giving it to you. Step out of your comfort zone this holiday season. Challenge yourself. Don't just toss some money at a problem. Put your heart out there.
Open your heart. Open your mind. Open your eyes.
Need is all around you.
And even the smallest gesture of kindness can have a big impact.