Monday, September 2, 2013

25 Acts of Kindness

I hope you all enjoyed a fun and relaxing Labor Day weekend! I spent a few days on the Cape with friends, taking it easy and avoiding the craziness that is Boston's prime moving weekend.

I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago and finally want to share it...

Every year around the second week of August I start hearing the inevitable question, "What do you want to do for your birthday?" And every year when I'm asked that question my answer tends to be, "I don't know," "I don't care" or "I don't want to make a big deal out of it."

Yes, I'm an often overbearing type-A planner who jumps (often too quickly) at the opportunity to plan things for others, but when it comes to planning something that leaves me as the center of attention? No thank you, I'll pass.

Awhile back I read an article (I couldn't find it to share with you, but found a similar one here) about a woman who celebrated her birthday by committing as many acts of kindness as the number of candles on her birthday cake. It was such a fun message, and since I'm a sucker for a good life lesson, this year I decided to try it for myself.

1. Pay it forward. I paid for the man behind me in the drive thru at Dunkin' Donuts last weekend. It may sound odd, but I've done this a few times (mostly around the holidays) and it always makes me smile thinking about their face when they're handed their free coffee and told to have a great day. 

2. Be appreciative. I bought simple flowers for my wonderful roommate/best friend, who outdid herself planning my birthday festivities as a reminder that I think she's awesome.

3. Kill 'em with kindness. People who leave stingy tips at restaurants bug me. You never know what someone's story is or what kind of day they're having, so even if you don't get the greatest of service - kill 'em with kindness. I had a less than impressive waitress at a restaurant a couple of weeks ago, and instead of reflecting my disappointment in her tip, I chose to be generous... and left a smiley face on a napkin. 

4. Reward goodness. On that note, I had an awesome waiter at a different restaurant last week. He was incredibly thoughtful and helpful and just genuinely nice. I love nice people. We left him a great tip as well and thanked him multiple times for making our experience such a great one.

5. Speak up. I sent a card to a friend who I haven't seen in far too long, but have been thinking about a lot lately, just to say hello and let her know I miss her.

6. Acknowledge those who inspire you. I donated $25 to Chase Your Dreams Now, a wonderful foundation that was started by a close (and awesome) family friend to honor his sister and nephew by supporting kids in the pursuit of their dreams. 

7. Find ways to give back through your passions. I finally tested out the Charity Miles app, which allows you to raise money for charities just by completing workouts.

8. Be a source of love and support. I picked up some things to send to my little sister who just moved into college for the first time. I learned while I was home last weekend, however, that she's pretty set with care packages at the moment, so I think I'll save this one for a later date!

9. Donate what you don't need/use. In my cleaning spree a couple of weeks ago I donated two bags of clothes to goodwill. 

 10. Round up. I clicked 'yes' on the option to round up my total purchase of Duck Tour tickets and donate the change to charity. More and more businesses are doing this, and while it may only be a few cents added to your purchase - it all adds up.

11. Help a stranger. In the age of smart phones and hand-held GPS technology this one doesn't happen as often, but I helped two people who stopped me on my walk home from work and asked for directions.

12. Promote brains (and crayons). While I was shopping for care package items for my sister, I picked up some school supplies to donate to a local program.

 13. Remind those you love. I cooked a nice dinner for my boyfriend, just to remind him that I think he's pretty special.

14. Just add sprinkles. I followed up aforementioned dinner with homemade cupcakes, since he had been claiming that I never bake for him (lies).

15. Share inspiration. I've shared a few quotes in the past couple of weeks, but this one from my last Thursday Thoughts post is my favorite.

16. Sweeten someones day. I baked blueberry banana muffins for some awesome people I'm lucky enough to call my co-workers.

17. Spread the word. As a Marketing professional, and as a consumer who utilizes reviews on a daily basis, I know how important recommendations can be. Thus, I took some time to write glowing reviews on five of my favorite restaurants on Yelp. 

18. Teach. I helped a woman at the laundromat learn how to operate the washing machine. 

19. Donate more. While wrangling up old clothes to donate, I also collected and donated a bag of old textbooks and other books that were just taking up space. 

20. Give a smile. I sent a card to a friend of mine who has been pretty sick lately, just to reminder her that she's loved. 

21. Spread the love and discover. Few bloggers will argue that they'd prefer not to get positive comments on their posts. In an effort to spread some kindness, and read some new blogs, I went on a blog comment crawl, clicking through from blog to blog and leaving nice, positive comments. 

22. Don't be a jerk. I consciously made an effort to be a nicer driver, let people in and stop being so impatient. I live in Boston, people. This is difficult sometimes. 

23. Spread some sunshine. I also made a conscious effort to smile at strangers and say hello. This, I like to think, is pretty normal for me, but is sometimes harder to do after a long day. Instead of imposing your exhaustion, stress and frustration on others, make someone smile or laugh. You'll be amazed at how much better you feel.

24. Put away the technology. This is something I constantly battle, I'm always connected. But I've made an effort to put the iPhone, laptop, etc. down and just enjoy what (and who) is around me. This is one I'd like to continue to work on.

25. Say thank you. Like many other things on this list, I'd like to think that I do this on a daily basis, but I know it can get lost in the shuffle of life. I've tried to say thank you a lot more in the past couple of weeks. To my family, to my friends, to the people who make my coffee, even to the waitress who's service was less than impressive. Oh, and thank you to you. If you're reading this, you're pretty special in my book.
Now, I don't usually solicit birthday presents, but if you're feeling really generous today and want to join the celebration...

Do something kind. Share it with others, feel good about yourself, and let it make you smile. 

Leave a comment and tell me about it! I'd love to hear about an act of kindness you did for someone else, recently or in the past. 

Have you every been the recipient of a random act of kindness?