Last week, I was the recipient of a Random Act of Kindness. My husband and I were heading into a Starbucks, and a girl and her mom were coming out. The little girl looked up at us, and her mom sort of gently pushed her towards us, and the girl held out a gift card to give to us. Her mom whispered to her, “What do you say?” She said (eyes turned down in shyness), “Have a nice day!”
This moment was especially special for me because I had just, the night before, been talking to my teens in my Gratitude Group all about Random Act of Kindness Week and how they had participated. We swapped examples of ways we had reached out to others and blessed them, our family and friends. It was so neat to hear these young people talk about putting kindness into action. I regularly look for ways to reach out to others and I try to encourage others to do the same. Now, I was suddenly on the receiving end and I was totally caught off guard!
I found myself speechless when I was accepting the gift card. It was totally one of those moments when you look back and think, “I should have said this and this and this!” I should have gotten down on my knee to her eye level (she was probably six years old) and asked her name and said, “You know, this is really cool because I talk to kids about kindness all the time and now it’s happening in real life from a stranger.” I could have said anything, but I just smiled and practically teared up and said Thank You.
My initial reaction when she gave us the gift card was to immediately turn around and give it away, bless someone else with this gift, pay it forward. Then I stopped and thought, no, you know, this girl chose me to receive this, and I choose to receive her kindness and just be honored by this moment. And, I tell you, my spirit was filled. Almost like getting a massage, or doing yoga, or meditating, or doing any activity that restores you physically, mentally and emotionally, this act of kindness had done the same thing for me. I was ready to run out and be kind to 1000 people because of this one person reaching out to me with kindness.
I thought a lot about this experience while we were standing in line for our now-free coffee, about what an impact this tiny stranger made on me. I told my husband, you know, I bet that girl and her mom will forget about us, next month, next year, certainly some time in the future. But, I will likely ALWAYS remember this gesture of kindness.
And in that, I learned a powerful lesson. Not only is it important to seek out opportunities to be kind to others, it’s equally important to learn to RECEIVE kindness that’s given to us. Receiving from others restores us and allows us to continue giving. Receive, be filled with the kindness given to you, and continue the good work of being kind to your fellow humans.
It’s sometimes awkward to step out of our comfort zone and reach out to someone we don’t know, even if we can see or sense the need is there. This little girl set an example for me and the experience taught me a lesson I won’t forget. Don’t underestimate the power of a small act of kindness from a stranger. You may never know the full impact it has on a person but you can be sure the ripple effect of its positive impact will be far-reaching.