Small Acts of Kindness
“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” -Bob Kerrey
A few days ago I was standing in line at a coffee shop, tired, hair pulled back into an unbrushed bun, and impatiently waiting to place my order. I had been up working on some projects late the night before, and I was hardly awake enough to tell you the title of the novel I'm working on.
That's when a sweet little voice said, "You're pretty." A young girl with golden hair and bright blue eyes, was smiling at me, while shyly hiding behind her father.
"Thank you," I said, blown away by the innocent love of this child. I didn't feel pretty when I walked into the coffee shop that morning, but I left glowing, excited that there was still goodness left in this world.
What made this little girl say something so sweet? I will never know. I realized that she had more guts than me. How often do I see something admirable in another person and don't encourage them? Fear is what holds me back. What his experience showed me, was that even small acts of kindness can rock someone else's world.
Small Acts Of Kindness That Have Meant A Lot To Me
- When I was stuck in a small Italian village, a local offered me a ride to the train station.
- The woman next to me learned that I was coming home from college for my 21st birthday and bought me an in-flight drink.
- I was standing in line to pay for lunch and the woman next to me said she had an extra coupon and she covered mine. It just happened to be my birthday, something she didn't know.
- I was working at an orphanage in Mexico, when one of our vans got stuck in the mud. Trying to push it out, I got disgustingly dirty. A family invited me into their shanty to wash up. Even though they were literally dirt poor, they showed kindness to a stranger.
- In high school I was volunteering in Alaska, and I couldn't afford an excursion my whole team was going on. Someone anonymously paid my way.
Years later, I don't remember these people's names, but they have each influenced how I show love to other people. Every time I see a forlorn traveler, looking at their map upside down, trying to figure out where the train station is, I think of the kindness of the woman who gave me a ride to the train station. Every time I think I don't have anything I can give, I think of the family who gave me some of their precious water, in a house with no plumbing, during a drought.
Leave Everything Better Than You Found It
One thing I have always admired about The Surfrider Foundation, is that its members are encouraged to pick up 10 pieces of trash every time they go to the beach. Can you imagine if everyone did that, how amazingly pristine our beaches would be?
What it comes down to is responsibility. When people see something as their domain of responsibility, they take pride in how things are kept. If you were held responsible for one acre of beach, then you would try your very hardest to keep it squeaky clean. It's too easy to think that it is someone else's problem, but the truth is that our public lands are your responsibility. They belong to us and our posterity.
Make it your ambition, in whatever area you find yourself in, to leave everything better than you found it. There is no better way to leave your mark, than to make everything your hand touches, better.
When I leave my job someday, I want my company to have been run more profitably and more efficiently than when I started. I want my department to be better run and organized than when it was entrusted to me. I want to hand my keys back to my landlord, with my apartment in a better condition than when I found it. I want to be a blessing to those around me and a good steward of what has been entrusted to me.
Ways You Can Spread The Love
- Leave your mark on everything your hand touches.
- Live with integrity and respect for yourself and others.
- Intentionally be on the lookout for ways you can use your talents for the benefit of your community.
- Take your focus off of yourself and observe the needs around you.
- Be bold! You might just be the agent of hope someone needs.
- An encouraging note, a pat on the back, or a hug can go a long way.
You Are The Solution
It's easy to get bogged down, thinking about the billion problems that our world faces, but the good news is that, last I checked, there are 7 billion of us to divide it by.
We love to rant about how our education system is failing, how too many kids are joining gangs, or how pollution is ruining our environment, but how many people are actually willing to do something? How many people pick up trash at the beach, donate an item to a school auction, or mentor a child who is growing up in a single parent household?
In high school I remember my teachers not being able to hand us print outs, because the school's paper budget was maxed out. If only each parent had brought in one pack of paper, we would have been able to take our tests.
You may think that your efforts are too small, and that no one sees, but don't ever underestimate the impact you have made. We are all responsible and accountable for the world we have created. We are all responsible for its failures, and all carry the responsibility to be good stewards of it.
Each of us has talents that can be shared to make a difference on this planet. We are all like secret agents, saving the world behind the scenes, one person at a time. You might just be the miracle someone is praying for. You might be the answer, the solution, the encouragement, the hope, the rescue, the provision, the friend, the catalyst, the motivator, or the peacemaker.
There is a verse that I just love:
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Heb. 13:2 (ESV)
How cool is that! There may be more divine purpose than you can see with eyes of flesh.
This Video Makes Me Quiver With Joy!
© 2014 Jennifer Arnett