Random Acts of Kindness

kindness3Recently, a mother took her two young boys to the grocery store. As she shopped, she helped them to put back their “fun finds” and stick to their list. She explained that since daddy had passed, they could not afford all of the things they used to and that they needed to stick to their budget. She told them they could now only purchase the necessities. What mom didn’t realize was that someone had overheard their conversation. This person picked up every item she put back on the shelves. As the family finished shopping, this woman followed them to the line, but managed to get ahead of them. She purchased all of the “fun finds” and left money with the clerk for mom’s shopping. When mom checked out, she was notified that her groceries had all been paid for, a cart of goodies was left for them, and they even had money left over. Tears streamed down her face as she tried to chase down the mystery woman to thank her. She never caught her, but contacted the local news to share her story. She hoped the mystery woman would hear and know how grateful she was for her gift of kindness.

A random act of kindness is a selfless act performed by a person wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual. Could you or someone you know benefit from a random act of kindness? There is some evidence that being kind can make a real difference to the well-being and health of individuals who practice it and receive it.

Witnessing altruistic acts can also be a source of what Abraham Maslow called “peak experiences,” – those moments of awe, wonder, and a sense of “rightness” which make us feel immensely grateful to be alive. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt calls it “elation” and describes it as a “warm feeling in the chest, an increased desire to help, and increased sense of connection with others.” It is, in his words, “a manifestation of humanity’s ‘higher’ or ‘better’ nature.” [1]

Think about the potential effect of one random act of kindness. Obviously, there’s the positive effect on the recipient who receives the kindness. Clearly, there’s the positive effect on the giver. However, a casual observer who happens to witness the act may have the greatest impact of all. Perhaps he/she will pay it forward too?

You have the power to change someone’s life for the better in practicing a random act of kindness. You might simply lift spirits for the day or you could change a whole way of thinking! One never knows the path another is walking, and a random act of kindness has the potential to completely alter that path for the better. What will your first random act of kindness be?

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” — Desmond Tutu

[1] Resources: Psychology Today, November 15, 2013, by Steve Taylor, Ph.D., http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/out-the-darkness/201311/elation-the-amazing-effect-witnessing-acts-kindness-0


Amy LaGrastaAmy LaGrasta, Flex School Counseling Senior Manager, helps students make informed decisions about courses, career and college options, and the study habits needed for online success. Prior to joining FLVS, she served as the guidance director at Estero High School in Lee County, FL where she was honored with the Teacher of Distinction award.

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