I recently turned 40.
In the spirit of various pins on pinterest, and ideas floating around the Internets, I decided that I wanted to do 40 random acts of kindness for my birthday. I toyed with a few different ideas among which were buying roses and leaving them on car windshields, passing out candy or other treats, printing out notes that say "Someone love you." and putting them where people would find them. These are all fine ideas, but somehow they made me feel like I was trying too hard. Trying to cram as much kindness into as little time as I possibly could. Something about that just didn't seem right. I was trying to be kind for the sake of getting to a certain number.
My husband took the day off work for my birthday. We went around town running various errands including driving up to a local view spot that has a $1 parking fee for a year long pass. A couple of times when we have gone up there the little shop you buy the passes has been closed, so we hadn't gotten one yet this year. I went in, paid for my pass, and gave the cashier an extra dollar to pay for the next person who came in to get one. That was my first act of kindness.
Outside there was a couple with a beautiful dog taking pictures of each other. I went over and offered to take a picture of them together. Act of kindness two.
Then we went to lunch and I left the waitress a nice note along with the tip. At this point I realized that I was not going to accomplish 40 acts of kindness in one day without mass producing them and making things feel a little less personal. My husband suggested that I should try to do my 40 acts during the week of my birthday instead. I wasn't totally happy with that compromise but decided to think about it.
Today I had a little epiphany. Why was I so worried about achieving this goal? Was it so I could feel good about myself? Was it for bragging rights about how good I was being? Was it so I could turn my thoughts outward on a day when I was feeling tempted to only think about me? Was it so that other people would experience a little kindness in small ways that they might not normally encounter? It was probably a combination of all of those. Then it hit me. I should be being kind ALL the time, to EVERYONE. It shouldn't be about numbers, or anything other than being a better person and treating people the way that everyone deserves to be treated.
So, my 40 acts was somewhat of a failure, but to me it was also a complete success. I think you should try it too.
Try being kind for the sake of being kind.
Stretch a little bit outside of yourself.
Smile at a stranger.
Hold the door open for someone.
Give compliments freely and without embarrassment.
Say positive things and keep the negative to yourself.
Look up and make eye contact.
Be a good tipper.
Give someone a hug (acts of kindness are for more than just strangers).
Write a letter.
Say Thank You.
Lend a helping hand.
Think of yourself less.
Don't worry about numbers or keeping track, just be a better person. And if you slip up, you can just start right over. I dare you to try it. It might just change your life!