Friday, November 30, 2007

Acts of Kindness

Leo Babauto, author of Zen Habits wrote a post about acts of kindness (with the goal of bringing people closer together). This is a concept I truly believe in. What prompted him to write was that when he went to the DMV (in Guam where he lives), a woman who works there was particularly helpful and he was so grateful.

And yet, when he was talking with his sister Katrina, she said she felt that most people aren't as kind as they used to be. She's noticed that people say "thank you" less often, and don't smile at strangers. They spend less time walking and talking with each other and more time in their cars where they often act rudely. They watch more TV and spend more time on their computers and less time outdoors interacting with others.

Leo mentioned that when he thinks of ways for people to establish community and help each other, the image that comes to mind is Amish barn raisings.

He is hoping that by offering to do kind things for others (he gave away 50 eBooks to the first 50 people who responded to his post), others will also do acts of kindness.

In the last 18 months, one of my favorite acts of kindness was playing the Autoharp at my mother's assisted living facility. Like Leo at Zen Habits, I'd like to know what my readers are doing to restore kindness and develop a sense of community. Do tell!


Syd said...

Another great post and a great reminder of how we can each make a difference in the lives of others.

I find that it's relatively easy to schedule time to do the big, organized volunteer projects, which I sometimes do, but equally as important, I try to do as much as I can to help other people in smaller ways throughout each day.

As a concierge in a major downtown office building, all sorts of people pass my desk each day. Some are here on legitimate business, some are in the wrong place, and some don't have a clue. I try to be nice and helpful to each and every visitor. If someone is lost and I'm not familiar with where they need to be, I look it up on the internet and if they need it, I print them a map to help them get to their destination.

People sometimes ask me why I take the extra time to help people when I technically don't have too. It's because it's the right thing to do. And besides, if my daughter, or my mother or my grandmother was somewhere and needed help, I'm hoping that someone would do the exact same thing.

I'll be interested to come back and see how other readers respond to your question.

marja said...

I try to be supportive to people with mental health issues, the way others have been supportive for me.

Another thing: My half-sister finds it very hard to be kind to my mother (her step-mother) because she has received a lot of emotional abuse from her. Yesterday we helped my mother (now 93) move. I tried to make the job a fun one for my sister - realizing that it is a lot easier for me to help Mom than it is for her. We had a very sisterly-close time, tickling each other, joking about how she's going to end up burying ME (she's 10 years older than me and always conscious of how old she's getting). I find myself constantly in a peacekeeping role where my sisters and Mom are concerned. But the kindest thing I can do for them is to accept that they're dealing with a lot of pain and realizing that I can perhaps help them deal with it by making their dealings with Mom easier to bear.

JayPeeFreely said...

Though it isn't that much, I try to be kinder to service people that I meet - and tip over what they might expect.

During this time of the year, I pick out someone that I've seen enough during the year, service wise, and get them a present or gift card for the season.

At work, I'll try to get something for a person that I may have overlooked or slighted...

But it is true, people are not as nice...for any number of reasons.

Paula Joy said...

Acts of Kindness is one of my favorite things about life. I enjoy so much the giving of something to someone who doesn't expect it. I love the look of surprise and genuine thankfulness. I'd much rather give than receive any day!

Wellness Writer said...

Paula Joy,
It is a really nice thing to do, isn't it?