Random Acts of Kindness Pay it Forward

Years ago I started thinking about the Lenten season, and what it’s supposed to mean those few days before Easter. Traditionally, we will give up a thing, or some pleasure that we take for granted every day. This was all fine and good. We spent the next 40 days doing without chocolate, sugar, or peanut butter; or going out with the gang on Friday nights. Some of us even vow that we will quit using elevators and escalators, and start taking a parking spot in the farthest corner, so that we have to walk a distance to the office building, or the grocery store. We might make the supreme sacrifice by stopping by the gym to work out every evening. All of this is supposed to be sacrifice for a mere 40 days.

Here’s my take on those sacrifices. Usually, when we give up favorite foods, such as sugar, chocolate, butter or ice cream, we have in mind losing a few pounds. When we give up going out on Friday nights, we have in mind saving a few dollars. When we park in the farthest corners of parking lots and take stairs instead of elevators or escalators, a person usually has in mind in toning up some muscles..getting into better shape, or that favorite old pair of jeans. In others words, it’s a selfish endeavor. We’re getting some personal gain out of these sacrifices. That’s right! I said it! It’s a selfish endeavor. Don’t get me wrong, though. Those are all good things to do, but it’s not exactly what a sacrifice is supposed to be.selfish.

I was inspired the movie Pay it Forward. The all star cast is Kevin Spacy, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment. A student takes an assignment from his social studies teacher; Think of an idea to change the world for the better and put it into action. He decides to take the challenge by helping three people, who will, in turn, each help three more people, and so on and so on. It boiled down to random acts of kindness. What a wonderful movie!

Do you know just how incredibly difficult it is to just do a kindness or just help someone just because you want to do it? Here’s even more of a challenge. Let’s say you actually complete a random act of act of kindness, and now you have to keep it to yourself. You cannot tell anyone. You may not toot your own horn AT ALL! You just do it for the sake of doing it, just to help someone else because you want to. If that person says they must repay you somehow, you must tell them, “No, but you must pass a kindness on to someone else.”

Here’s where I would have a hard time. Say, if I bought a Big Mac and took it down to the corner and gave it to a homeless person; I’d nearly burst before my husband came home, and noticing that the house was a mess, and asked, “Soooo, what’d you do today?”. and I’d blurt out, “I went to MacDonalds and bought a Big Mac and gave it to the homeless person that stands on the corner of Jones and Red Bluff!” Then I’d await my accolades and pats on the back. “What a good girl am I!” Again, that’s not how it works. It should be enough of a reward just to help another person. It should be, but I would have to ask myself “How do I get to that point?” And my answer would be the obvious; “Well, it just takes practice. You get used to it.” What? It doesn’t come naturally? No, what comes naturally to humans is survival, propagation, success, one-upmanship, compete, compete and compete to name a few natural human instincts.

Here’s another pitfall. It’s never a bad thing to do something good to help someone else. However, if you do a good thing, and say, you even were able to keep it to your self, not telling a soul. And then you turn around and say something unkind about someone, or do something hurtful or slight someone else in some way. Well, there you go! You’ve just wiped out all of your private Atta-Girls. See? I know about this, because alas, I have experience in it. I’ve choked on my feet with the cattiest of cats. Mea Culpa!

It’s simple to do an act of kindness or to pay it forward, but it just isn’t easy. Sometimes just a smile offered to someone who needs to see one is enough; a phone call to someone who is down in the dumps, or a card to someone, just because you were thinking of them. Put your arm around someone who needs a little comfort. Sometimes, it means extending an olive branch to someone you’ve hurt or been hurt by. It’s still an act of kindness. You don’t have to wait for a crisis of any kind. There doesn’t have to be a personal tragedy, hurricane or a fire. I could simply start by trying to do one small kindness a day, for no particular reason at all.