One of my favourite movies is called ‘Pay It Forward’. It’s about a young boy called Trevor McKinney, who has an alcoholic mother and an abusive but absent father. At school, his new social studies teacher gives him an assignment to: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favour not back, but forward- with new good deeds done to three new people. Trevor’s efforts bring about a revolution not only in the lives of himself, his mother and his teacher, but also in an ever-widening circle of people completely unknown to him.
I fell in love with this concept and, since seeing the movie, random acts of kindness have been something that I try to incorporate into my life. There are so many little ways that you can brighten someone else’s day. One of my favourites random acts of kindness was to hide a $5 note somewhere with a post it note stuck to it saying ‘have a nice day’. Some might say it’s cheesy, but I loved the thought of a stranger finding that and treating themselves to a coffee or a muffin. The other day I took myself out to lunch and commented to the waitress that I didn’t get out much as I have young babies. When I went to pay for my meal and cocktail (you only live once ;-)) I was told ‘the man next to you has treated you to lunch and asked you to pay it forward.’ I was delighted.
September 1st is Random Act of Kindness Day so I hope loads of people will make the most of it. Check out www.rak.co.nz for more info or inspiration on things you can do.
Here are some ways you can do something nice for others. Some are free, some cost money, some take time, but all are wonderful ways to spread some cheer.
- Take a bag to the beach or park and collect rubbish on your walk, dropping it in the bin on the way out.
- Sign up for restoration groups planting trees and protecting sand dunes at your favourite park or beach.
- Let people in when the traffic is busy.
- Give someone your parking ticket if there is time left or leave change in the machine for the next person.
- Pay for the person behind you at the grocery store or cafe.
- Bake some muffins or slice for the office, your neighbours… or the local police station, fire service or emergency room – they help others every day.
- Send thank you cards to people who have been kind to you, or people who you have never met but are grateful for – such as your local police station.
- Buy a homeless person a sandwich.
- Pay someone a compliment.
- Offer to babysit.
- Take a bunch of flowers to the hospital and give it to the nurses to pass on to someone who needs it most.
- Clean out your wardrobe and donate the clothes to a needy cause such as Dress For Success.
- Take your old magazines to places they will be appreciated – your local hospital, doctor’s waiting room.
- Call an old friend you haven’t spoken to in ages.
- Send some chocolates to someone you want to thank for something.
- Go out and buy the Keep Cup, Bobble Bottle or other such product that you have been meaning to buy and pay a kindness to the planet.
- Donate blood.
- Give your partner a massage.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in self-importance – why should you let someone into traffic, you’re too busy to stop! Why should you pick up someone else’s rubbish, it’s not your job! But if you stop and think about it, it’s just as logical to say ‘Why not?’ or better still, to say that the reason you do small acts of kindness is to make the world we live in a better place.