Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kindness is Big


Another guest post by Dana


Over the past couple of years, I've been making a concerted effort to be nicer. I was never one of those "the world is out to get me - let me get them first" people (although I was married to one), but there were times when I knew I could help out and instead of doing so, I left the opportunity for the proverbial "someone else."

Then I decided I wanted to be "someone else." I began wondering how my life might change if I did those little things I often left to "someone else." It was fun thinking of ways to anonymously be "someone else," but even more productive when the ways just present themselves.

For example, a couple of weeks ago my neighbor upstairs was attempting to move a rather large piece of furniture by himself. He had leaned the long section of the entertainment center on the stairs and then attempted to pull the piece up the stairs ... without help.

I watched him for a few seconds, wondering if maybe the unit wasn't as heavy as it looked. It was - he was clearly struggling. I put on my shoes and ran outside saying, "Let me give you some help with that." At first he resisted with a "No, I can get it," but I didn't listen. With both of us working on it we got it up the stairs quickly.

Not a big deal - really - but it had big impact. That neighbor has never said anything more than "Hi" in the 5 months I've lived here. Just last night we had a lengthy (30 minute) conversation about his dogs, what he does for a living, and his experiences living in this small town being a gay man. I'd say it made a difference.

The radio station I listen to - K-Love - encourages its listeners to participate in "Make a Difference Monday":

With every Make A Difference Monday at K-LOVE, we’re hoping that you’ll be looking for ways to encourage someone. The possibilities are endless! And remember… “Little things don’t mean a lot, they mean EVERYTHING!”

It might sound corny. It might bring to mind images of holding hands around the campfire and singing "Kumbaya." But you know what? I've been on the receiving end of unexpected kindness, many times when I literally felt I could not make it through the struggle of life one more minute. I know that being on the receiving end one of those little reminders that someone - anyone - cares can be life altering.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of unexpected kindness? Do you regularly practice kindness in some anonymous way?



rubyphoenix said...

One of my favorite commercials right now is the (I think) Liberty Mutual one where people do little things to help out people. Maybe just hold an elevator door or something. And each time they help, someone else sees it and decides to help someone. I think that's a great way to be.

Jay said...

I'm a giving kind of guy, so I do all kinds of nice things for people. Holding doors, picking up things they dropped stuff like that. The other day I was taking out the trash on my way out in the morning and a woman who lives on the other side of the building was doing the same thing. Our dumpster is a ways down the parking lot. So I reached out and offered to taker her trash bad too, since I was already going in that direction. She seemed unusually happy at my offer.

Of course, I totally screwed myself with that move. The woman is gorgeous and I ruined a chance to strike up a conversation with her or at least ogle her great ass a bit. But, that's just the kind of thoughtful gentleman I am. ;-)

Jeanne said...

Not as often as I intend to.

One thing I do, though, is tell total strangers that some article of apparel totally works for them: "Cool boots!" "Love the sweater!" and then I keep walking. And often hear a startled, happy, "Thanks!" from behind me....

Charlene said...

Yesterday I was leaving the post office and I walked out the in door. A man was approaching the door about 3 feet from me; I held the door longer than I had to so he could walk through. He said, "Thank you!" I said, "You're welcome!"

Amazing how that can make me happy.

Smiling is something anyone can do when passing someone. Yesterday I was at the doctors [routine thing] and I kept passing the same woman. She was older dressed all in pink. I smiled at her. In the space of an hour I passed her three times. Every time I smiled. She smiled back.

The last time we were sitting in a small anti-room waiting for the lab tech. She told me she lived on a farm and was there because of her raging allergies to grass, trees, etc. It was nice to talk to someone I never would have talked to because I smiled and she smiled.

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

See, what you are doing is "Paying It Forward", something I totally believe in.

Doing something for someone else without expecting to be repaid, but expecting that person to do something for someone else.

For me, my getting Paid forward was the day of the blackout in NYC and I went to the Lincoln Tunnel entrance in Manhattan and asked two ladies in an SUV to just get me to the NJ side...I even offered them my driver's license as security.

They took me across and to the rest area there, where I hitched a ride down the Turnpike to my exit.

I have tried to pay it forward whenever possible

Karen said...

I help when I can. Just today I helped a short lady reach something in the supermarket as she was going to climb the shelves. I do try to be kind and I think do a pretty good job at it.

I would totally help the neighbor in your situation. That is great that you made a friend!

Dana said...

rubyphoenix, I'll have to pay attention - I'm not sure I've seen that one!

Jay, trust me, taking out the trash for your hot neighbor will earn you far more brownie points than oogling her great ass.

Jeanne, what a great idea - you don't mind if I steal it do you?

Dana said...

Charlene, I don't know if the silly things I do make the other person as happy as they make me, but I hope they do!

And the smiling? Just a few minutes ago I had a FedEx truck pull out in front of me. Instead of honking my horn and flipping him off, I opted for a big smile and a "wave-off" I'm guessing he appreciated it.

Vinny "Bond" Marini, Over the past year, I've had so much kindness sent my way there is no possibility I could ever pay it all forward ... but that won't keep me from trying!

Karen, I do the supermarket reach thing quite frequently. The market I shop at is across the street from a 55+ community and it seems my 6' frame is frequently needed.

I was thrilled to make a friend in my complex, and my guess is my neighbor was somewhat relieved to learn he could talk about his struggles to someone who didn't judge.

SkylersDad said...

I try and be nice to everyone I meet, that is the only form of religion that I subscribe to.

Kel said...

Last fall, we were at the gas station, and my girl had gone in to pay for our gas. She came out to the car and was telling me how an elderly lady had come in to the store to ask if they would PLEASE take a check to pay for some gas to put in her car. She had picked up her ailing husband from the nursing home, had no money, and was trying to make it home, and she was afraid she was going to run out of gas on the side of the road. They absolutely refused. So I handed my girl $10, and told her to go give it to the woman. The woman grabbed her in a big hug, and paid for her gas. When she came out, I went over and pumped her gas. She couldn't believe the kindness of strangers, and wanted our names to send us a check.. I patted her on the arm, and told her to take her husband home, and have a good day.

Later that same week, we were at the grocery store, and as we came out of the store, I noticed a different elderly lady was trying to transfer her bags from her cart, to her back seat. I could see that she was struggling and offered to help. I guess the bag boy didn't notice she was 80 something, and about 4'11" -- How was she going to lift the bag that weighed probably 15lbs out of her cart?? She was appreciative beyond words.. I told her not to try and lift that bag out of her car when she got home! To think about transferring some of the items to a couple of bags so she would be able to safely carry her purchases into her house.

Paying it forward is definitely a GOOD IDEA!!

J.J. said...

I was in college (and on crutches) when a 6.7 earthquake hit. The elevator to the parking structure was shut down and I was facing a 3 floor climb. Out of nowhere, a couple approached me and asked if I needed help. The man took my backpack while the woman kept an eye on me as I climbed the stairs.

When we got to my car, the man handed me the backpack. After putting it in my car I turned around...and they were gone. I was glad that I'd thanked them before we started up the stairs because I never saw them again.

Because of that experience, I do random acts of kindness whenever possible.

Real Live Lesbian said...

I enjoy both sides of this. My first memory of someone doing something nice for me was when my car broke down in the rain. A car full of a family came up and my girlfriend (both of us 16) piled in the backseat with their three kids. They took us home.

The nicest thing I've ever done was helping a middle aged man at the pharmacy. I was waiting an eternity for my prescriptions and he was in front of me.

They called him up and there was a huge pile of them. All for his parents. He had $112 worth to buy and he only had $50.

I paid for them all on my credit card with money that I didn't have. He gave my his handyman business card and said if I ever needed anything to give him a call. I just told him to do something nice for someone else.

And there's that one time that I bought a little girl in Bolivia an ice cream cone.

It all is selfish and does nothing more than make my heart swell. I love spreading the love!

Anonymous said...

It's great!!..........................................

Rachel Cotterill said...

I try to help out whenever I spot an opportunity, online or off. And I sometimes do as Jeanne describes.