Random Acts of Kindness … Creating a Daily Habit
On my actual birthday, I was in bed sick all day and the day before that as well. It’s a good thing that I planned on doing 48 acts of kindness (not really random as some have pointed out since they were premeditated) in advance of my birthday.
Getting my kids to do it was also a bust. My new teen GrasshopperandSensei (just 13) thinks doing acts of kindness for my blog doesn’t count towards good karma. She thinks it’s all a big marketing scheme. Ditto for my 10-year-old daughter PickyKidPix who tends to side with her big sister. My 8-year-old son did not participate either. He needs prompting. Instead, he gives me lots of kisses.
My husband did a few but on my actual birthday, he was too busy as the single driver for our brood to have a moment to fit them in. My childhood friends too, sent flowers as they always do despite my plea for acts of kindness. A handful of Mom friends as well brought me lovely gifts and/or called me.
In truth, I hate my birthday. It’s not getting older. I don’t mind that at all. It’s the attention. I don’t like that at all. So, it was a relief to hole up in bed with my hacking cough and dizzy headache and sleep and sleep and sleep.
Perhaps the lesson here is that doing acts of kindness is a personal choice, not one to be easily coaxed out of loved ones. We each must make that choice every day, every moment with mindfulness as opportunities come up. Do you or don’t you? Sometimes you will without even realizing how kind you were. Sometimes, it is not to be. No time. No energy. No ability to give.
I found that I do acts of kindness without realizing it, little things like retweeting, holding the door or saying thank you. But there were many opportunities that I passed on. In tracking 48 acts of kindness, it was a like a food diary for me. It made me really think and try a little harder. Yes, it was for my blog but I still maintain that it counts. My kids can think otherwise.
And it’s weird that my desire to do random acts of kindness evolved into a gift that really benefited me more than others I theoretically helped. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I first heard of Random Acts of Kindness as a way to celebrate a birthday, I was daunted to accomplish 48 acts in one single day. Instead, I started early, trying to do a few a day. Good thing too given that I was too sick to function for two days.
This slight change of mindset has become a habit. Strange that a few weeks is all it took. I fully realize that I’m receiving more than I am giving. Funny how it works like that! The gift of giving gives back tenfold.
What has your experience with Acts of Kindness been? Do you do them without really thinking about them? Does mindfulness work for you? Would you celebrate a birthday by doing them?
p.s. And my birthday turned out to be lovely. I get a do-over dinner with my husband when I feel better and it’s no longer my birthday. I got some much needed downtime. And for all of you that remembered, THANK YOU! You totally made my day!
48 Acts of Kindness (Some Random, Some Not)
1) Globe Santa. I did this before my birthday because I wanted to make it in time for Christmas. The Boston Globe newspaper has been helping needy families with Christmas wishes for years. We don’t get the paper anymore but I made a donation in the name of my kids.
Kmart Layaway Angels. I tried to do this also, but you have to go into the store and there isn’t one near me. I called customer service to see if there was a way to pay online but there isn’t.
2) Indigogo. I donated a small amount to an author friend who wants to translate his The Monkey King’s Daughter adventure series into Chinese. This was also before my birthday but I was his first donor! My kids were thrilled to get a signed copy of his book!
3) Soup, bagels and cookie delivery. My mom friend Julie got into a minor fender bender and tweaked her neck. I dropped off some food so she wouldn’t have to deal with dinner.
4) My girls and I put money in parking meters at the parking lot near the Indoor Farmer’s Market. It was a lot of fun.
5) I am normally an impatient driver. Today, I waited patiently while one driver received lengthly directions and another took a long time to notice the green light. My oldest teased me that it was tough for me to do. Yes. Yes, it was!
6) I donated the evening to work on the Pinterest board gratis for Felix Doolittle, fine and customized stationery and gift items based on the watercolor art of artist Felix Fu, where my oldest is interning. Redid their boards and increased their following to help drive business to their site.
7) Does it count that we supported our local Indoor Winter Farmer’s Market? It’s the first year and business is slow for them. My girls said that they felt good supporting local businesses rather than a faceless supermarket chain.
8) Picked up random dog poop at the dog park and threw it away.
Helped Made the kids make holiday cards with a small gift cards for everyone at school: school nurse, secretary, classroom aids, school librarian, specialist teachers, teachers and principal. We were excited to gift their teachers inscribed copies of Grace Lin’s lastest book Starry River of the Sky from the author event we went to. Should have gotten them inscribed copies of Wonder too from the R. J. Palacio event but forgot to get them a copy.
10) Helped my oldest bake cookies for her school party tomorrow without complaining because I had forgotten she needed cookies until 5:30 that night. Luckily, we had everything at home to bake chocolate chip cookies.
11) Donated to the firemen at the mall on the crazy crowded last weekend before Christmas. They stood in the long car lines with firemen’s boots collecting for Muscular Distrophy. Even a fireman’s young daughter helped out. I gave to her.
12) Cheered for the opposing indoor soccer team when they scored and made great saves at goal. When any team is outmatched, they deserve support for fighting hard. I’ve been on both sides — when my kid’s team is dominating and when they are getting clobbered.
There’s nothing worse than watching your child’s team get clobbered while the parents of the other team cheer for every goal they make. Sometimes at tournaments or holiday weekends, the teams are just not evenly matched.
I cheer for underdogs! They deserve it!
13)Recycled a month’s worth of plastic grocery bags.
14) Posted on Whole Foods Almost Midnight Madness Sale gratis because it’s so great that there is significant savings at this one night event which might make this grocery store accessible for people who otherwise find it too expensive.
15) Thanked the policeman who helped us cross the street at Symphony Hall. He said, “You’re welcome” back like he really meant it!
16) Tipped the women’s bathroom attendant. She sat on a chair in the bathroom and looked exhausted. The jar had just two dollars so added one more. Hope it cheers up her day!
17) Cleaned up the toilet paper off the floor of my toilet stall.
18) Gave a generous tip to our wonderful and knowledgeable waiter at L’Impasto, a new Italian restaurant in Cambridge. The food is delicious there and the prices are quite reasonable!
19) Rescued several spiders in my house (three so far!), and set them in my herb garden outside.
20) Checked my neighbor’s front door to make sure it was locked after my friend was robbed in our neighborhood. My neighbor was out of town and asked me to double check. Can’t be too careful! Luckily, it was locked!
21) Donated clothes to charity.
22) Donated food to local food pantry.
23) My husband got into the act and did some acts of kindness to help me celebrate. He put money into parking meter of car next to us that had no time left on their meter. A quarter bought 12 minutes; hopefully enough not to get a ticket.
24) Held the door at the drop off at school. The little kids are in a rush to get into school when it’s cold outside!
25) Picked up trash at the dog park.
27) Read twice with my son in one day. Usually we just read at night but he is loving Percy Jackson so today we read two chapters. One in the morning and one at night.
27) My husband left a large tip at our favorite Dim Sum restaurant as a Random Act of Kindness on my behalf. I think Chinese restaurants typically pool their tips. Happy New Year to China Pearl!
28) Refused plastic bags at CVS. Carried the small items in my purse instead.
29) A big dog poo pick up day. Picked up 8 piles of my dog’s poo in our backyard. Picked up a lot of dog poo at the dog park. 2 abandoned bags of dog poo and two piles of the stuff. (My dog pooped twice as well at the dog park.)
30) Was the designated driver for a night out with two mom friends. I only had one glass of wine so I could drive us home safely.
31) Contributed to flowers for my brother’s mother-in-law who fell and broke her clavicle. My sister engineered the flower delivery and used a coupon to boot. Thanks Noreen!
32) Shared an inspirational quote. (And more on failure here). The gospel I preach is that failure is the best teacher in the world. If you learn to embrace failure, you will have all kinds of interesting opportunities that other people are too scared to try.
33) Left nice comments on blogs that I read.
34) Complimented a mom on a job well done who was feeling down.
35) Geez. I wish I was 35 … 13 more to go! Arrived on time to the holiday shows I booked for my family. Good thing too, because Blue Man Group enjoyed outing and humiliating the couple who came in twenty minutes late to the amusement of the rest of the audience.
36) Did GrasshopperandSensei‘s household chores when she was sick without complaining.
37) Gave directions to the nice elderly couple who wanted to buy boots like the ones I was wearing. The store, The Barn, is great for warm winter boots but the sign is impossible to see from the street.
38) Turn off all excess lights in the house. My kids are bad at this.
39) Skyped my sister, her family and my mom on Christmas. (Too bad my sister’s kitchen caught on fire during the call … more on that later!) Also caught up with my brother and sister-in-law via telephone.
40) Greeted everyone warmly at the dog park including the dogs.
41) Helped my kids take care of the new bunny across the street when my neighbor went on vacation.
42 My husband offered the tile guys redoing our bathroom coffee every morning they are here. He makes good coffee too.
43) My husband donated all our barely-used ice skates to families in our area who had girls with exact shoe size match.
44) Tweeted for a cause. (Will tweet for any cause as long as you tweet directly to me @PragmaticMom just because I can’t always read my stream of tweets).
45) Facebook Liked all the mom bloggers who needed help getting to their goal.
46) Voted for the Mom Bloggers in my Kid Bloggers Network group who were up for an award and asked for help.
47) Helped someone find a job. My mom friend Lori asked for help for her co-worker who relocated to Boston. Her field is not where I have contacts but remembered my babysitter alumnus who is awesome and offered to email introduce them.
48) Did not go ape sh*! when I found out that my hosting company has been billing me for months and months even though I moved my blog to another company a long time ago. Had to call, reset my password because who can remember it with it requires one upper case letter, a numeral and a symbol in order to cancel it?! Tried to stay Zen about the whole extra billing thing. Deep breath!
And there you have it. I was not able to do 48 Random Acts of Kindess in a Single Day. I am admittedly not a Super Hero or a Super Mom.
Still, doing them over the course of several weeks was a powerful experience for me to make a daily habit of it. I now think about opportunities (both missed and realized) to do a Random Act of Kindness that I ordinarily would not have done.
Since I finished these before my actual birthday, I will do more Random Acts of Kindness on my birthday. I’m grateful for this experience. It’s been the best birthday present ever! Thank you again to the mom bloggers who inspired me:
Just a Bunch of Momsense
p.s. I will be joining a group of bloggers for 100 Days of Acts of Kindness. I will be blogging on Easy Every Day Acts of Kindness That Don’t Cost a Cent. This is the kind of movement I can get behind wholeheartedly!