Question 1205: What’s the kindest thing you’ve done for a stranger?
Random acts of kindness are an important part of my life. I think this comes from the idea that the world needs more positive and loving energy, so why not put that out there whenever possible? If it’s true that everyone has a particular love language, giving is absolutely mine.
I usually don’t know the impact of my actions, and sometimes that is intentional. I also don’t know how to quantify the intensity of kindness. Is holding a door for someone kind? Offering to carry another’s bags when they’re overloaded? Making donations? Paying for someone’s lunch when they’re low on cash? Or just randomly buying the next person’s coffee? Are one of these actions more kind than the others? All things I’ve done, but I do them so regularly, in my mind, it’s just something that a person should do.
I have noticed, though, that I tend to make unusually grand gestures of kindness whenever I’m going through something in my life. I think that comes from my first point, that the world needs more positive, loving energy, and when I’m in a spot where I feel like things aren’t right — fighting with Martin, feeling stressed with work, school, and the kids; or there’s a news headline that terrifies or saddens me — I’m usually propelled to put positivity out there.
One example: a friend of mine in my hometown posted on Facebook that a friend of hers — a stranger to me — was looking for two used mattresses. The stranger and her husband were in the process of becoming foster parents, and their home inspection was just a few days away. They learned they needed two additional beds. Someone provided bed frames to them, but they needed mattresses, too. Having already maxed out their budgets preparing their home, they were hoping maybe someone was spring-cleaning?
At the time, I was buried deep in an awful work environment. I was crashing on university deadlines while also bouncing off some postpartum hormones, and stressed out by family drama going on back in the United States. All of that was playing in the back of my mind, sitting on my shoulders, threatening to take over my mood and outlook … but I wouldn’t let it.
Sitting on my couch in Germany, I immediately reached out to my friend, and got contact information. I sent a note to this stranger, telling them that two mattresses were on their way, and then ordered overnight delivery online, along with some bed linen. (Discounts and loyalty points for the win!) The whole thing took maybe 15 minutes, and I was grateful to be in a place where it was financially and logistically possible for me to do so. I did it, and I was done. Through social media, I know the family passed their home inspection, became foster parents, and are in the process of adopting, too.
The lesson here for my kids is this: I saw an opportunity to put positive energy out there, to be kind.
So I did. And if you have the power and ability to do the same, you should, too.