We are living in a "me first" type of society. For many of us, we are taught from the cradle to "look out for number one!" and many of us do just that. We are self-focused and self-possessed. An unfortunately large segment of the world population finds it very difficult to see beyond themselves to look at those around them. How often do we act without considering the effect of our actions on those around us?
I have written a hub about how your belonging to a community affects those around you as a response to a request regarding the importance of being a part of the Hubpages community rather than just an instigator. While the majority of the hub in question relates directly to Hubpages, it is also true and significant that community is everywhere around you.
What will you make of the community in which you live? Will you be a kind contributor or a self-centered instigator? And what does kindness mean, anyway?
Don't Laugh at Me
How do Acts of Kindess Affect Others?
It is very clear to most people the way in which our negative interactions affect us (and others). We see it in the victims of bullying or of abuse. Most of us appear to be aware of the potential long-term effects on someone who was mistreated even during their very early life.
Yet it is often overlooked how important an act of kindness can be to someone who is in need. We find it easy to look past the begger or the disabled person. We would rather avoid eye contact with the person who is standing on the street corner holding a sign. We turn a blind eye to the homeless woman and her children sleeping in the doorway of an abandoned building. We drive right past that car that is broken down on the side of the highway, and we don't give them a second thought.
Our own acts of kindness, however, can change the life of a person who is in a point of struggle in their lives. If we stop to give the beggar something to eat, or to help the disabled person to gather items that are out of their arms read; if we take the time to provide clothing to the person holding that sign so that he can perhaps find himself a job; if we offer shelter to the woman and her children; if we stop to make sure that the person broken down on the side of the highway has been able to call for help -- If we do these things, perform these acts of kindness, we have the potential to not only change the course of a person's day, but to change their outlook on life (even if only for a short period of time).
Every action you take affects the life of someone around you.
Random Acts of Kindness
Just What Is Kindness?
Kindness is the act of doing something for another person without the expectation of having it paid back to you. In many cases an act of kindness cannot, in fact, be paid back.
Some examples of ways you could perform a random act of kindess:
- Let somebody into the better parking space.
- Help someone to get something that is out of their reach.
- Stop to make sure that everyone is alright at the scene of a break-down or accident.
- Hold the door open for someone
- Give up your seat for someone
- Take the time to visit someone who is shut in
- Make eye contact with the homeless person holding the sign -- offer them food
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen
- Leave a really good tip
- Smile at someone
- Hold your tongue when you are angry
Acts of Kindess are about Putting Others First
We live in a very fast-paced world. Many of us are busy, on our way somewhere, without time to stop and do something for another person. We have so much on our mind. We might be thinking about tomorrow's big presentation, or worried about what we're going to cook for dinner tonight. We might be eager to get to some destination or to leave some place where we are uncomfortable. In essence, we are trapped in our own thoughts and emotions and it becomes incredibly difficult to see others around us.
Kindness is about putting other people ahead of ourselves. It is about taking the time to give someone else a piece of our time -- and time is sometimes our most valuable commodity. Kindness is something that is done voluntarily: it is not something that can be taxed or stolen from us. Nobody controls our decision to show kindness except ourselves.
Kindness means not first asking "what is in it for me" but asking ourselves "how can I help this other person." It means seeking to fill a gap in the life of someone who may be struggling, or who has a need. It means not asking for anything in return. Kindness is giving of ourselves without considering what will come back in our direction. Kindness always puts others first.
Pay it Forward -- Random Acts of Kindness in the Media
Several years ago I had the opportunity to watch the movie Pay it Forward.The premise of the movie is the idea that if one person begins with three acts of kindness, and asks that the recipients "pay it forward" that one person can change the world.
I feel that too often in our modern society we are looking to our world governments to cure the ills in the world. We look to our leaders to tax one group of people in order to support another group of people. We demand by force what one group should be giving to another freely. Why is this? What has happened to the concept of kindess? What has happened to "being the change you want to see in the world?" (Paraphrased from Mahatma Gandhi)
One thing that I loved about this movie is that it proved that one person can make that change, and the change can be as big or as small as we allow it to be.
If you haven't seen the movie yet, the trailer is to the right followed by an opportunity to purchase it and watch it in the comfort of your own home.
What would you do?
No Act of Kindness is to Small...
Many of us think "But what can I do?" The world sometimes seems to be so overwhelming and it appears that there is nothing that we can do to make a change in the world. Sometimes we are afraid (what if it's a trick? Is the person stopped by the side of the road a robber who wants to mug me?) and other times we're just too busy (I have somewhere to be and if I let this person in ahead of me in traffic I will be wasting time).
It can be overwhelming and sometimes we feel as though there is nothing that we can do: but there is always something that we can do. Something as "simple" as a smile can change a person's day. If you see a car idling by the side of the road, use your cell phone to call for help (the police is usually a good route to take). If you feel that you're too busy to allow someone ahead of you in traffic, consider that it will only set you back a minute or two -- not a lot of time in the long run, and you will have made someone's day!
No act of kindness is too small!
Personal Experience: The Flat Tire
Last month, my husband and I had cause to drive from the state in which we live (Indiana) to North Carolina. On the way back, we blew out a tire. This seems to be typical of us, because it is not the first time this has happened while making the trip from North Carolina to the more Northern states. The tires were all new (within the past couple of months) and so we must have driven over something in the road.
It was shortly after one in the morning when we blew the tire out and got onto the side of the road. Until three AM we sat in our car with the engine running and the hazards on. After that, with gas prices on the rise, we turned off the engine and the lights and opened the hood, hoping that someone would see us stopped and call a towing company or some other form of help.
At about four in the morning we were awakened (as we had fallen asleep) by the courtesy patrol. We called AAA and waited for our tow truck to arrive in order to help us.
You see, we don't have a cell phone, and even if our phone was still connected, we would not have had service in the mountains of West Virginia. We were stuck, sleeping in our car with a young child, while large rigs raced past us, making us jolt every single time. The experience was frightening, and in spite of a lot of traffic for that time of the morning, nobody stopped to help us or bothered to call for help.
One simple act of kindness (making a call that we could not) would have changed the course of our entire trip.
My Challenge to You
Doing a search, I found the video at right on YouTube. Although it is two years old, I can actually remember the incident the man in the video is describing. He is absolutely right: these types of acts of violence are disturbing and unnecessary. I believe that we can affect and influence others around us by committing ourselves to selflessly perform acts of kindness in order to help others.
My challenge to you is to take the time in the next week to reach out to others in kindness. Even if you can only perform one act of kindness, do it. Hold a door open for someone with their arms loaded. Carry shopping to someone's car for them. Smile more often. Give up the best seat in the house for someone who needs it more than you (or even someone who doesn't). Take care not to respond in anger. Compliment someone. The ways in which one can show kindness are endless. The point is just to do it!
Please don't miss the links and news feed below the comments section if you're interested!
How about you? Can you perofrm Acts of Kindness, too?
What kinds of acts of kindness have you performed?
Sarah on March 15, 2019:
I like too because it help me to learn about kindness and it change your life/ change the world to make it a better place to show kindness.
Wayne on February 10, 2019:
I gave a $100.00 bill to a young mentally challenged couple that was distraught over being $50.00 short on their power bill.
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on May 09, 2018:
I think in this day and age, people assume everyone has a cellular phone, and therefore they don't stop. It's sad, really.
Stephen (Ireland) on May 09, 2018:
If you passed someone broken down on the side of the road, what would you do?
62% of people telling lies to make themselves fell better. The truth is in less its someone you know, chance is you wont stop.
I have been the victim of bullying during my youth and it even carried on to my adult life. A consequence of this is that I have pretty severe anxiety and depression. I often look for kindness in people, and I have failed in my search
Margot Tirado on January 10, 2018:
My husband and I have given lunches including burgers, pies, and drinks from fast food places like Mac Donald's and Burger Kings to people who hang out near large stores like Walmart. We've given warm clothes and accessories (wool hats, gloves, and scarves) to people who hang out in vacant lots. We donate gently used warm clothing to community centers. One of our first acts of kindness was to treat, what appeared to be, a homeless woman to lunch. My husband regularly buys food for the birds that congregate on our back porch. He also serves stray cats and squirrels food left over from dinner.
Tiffany on August 10, 2016:
Treat others the way you wish to be treated..
Gevil on January 13, 2016:
I like it too. It helped in more tgan just one way , I actually had an essay on this in school and it really helped me. ! ♥♡★☆■□●○◆◇
Eileen from Western Cape , South Africa on June 15, 2015:
We would be so much better off with all these positive messages . Paying it forward and little acts of kindness are great attributes !
Maharshi Rudra from India on May 11, 2015:
Sai Chaitanya from INDIA on November 15, 2014:
The world always expects some kindness from us. Being a member of society, a small kind of act will help the entire society.
Dan Barfield from Gloucestershire, England, UK on January 21, 2013:
This is a fantastically positive hub! Great work there Everyday miracles!!
Eradio Ian on October 07, 2012:
I love yo speech and yo words of wisdom, i read books about successful business people, like Trump, Robert Kiyosaki, Brian tracy, Joel Osteen 2 mention but a few, one said that service to many Leeds to greatness, and another one said when u change the environment around u automatically yr 2 changes; God bless
Rosie on March 23, 2012:
i am just a kid at school in third grade and there are mean boys there. i want to help change their lives into better ones so they can be on a path with god not the devil. because they are on a bad path right now and i want them to go to heaven because i love them. i love everybody just like you are supposed to!
yoginijoy from Mid-Atlantic, USA on March 02, 2012:
As an educator, there are times when I actually assign for homework "a random act of kindness." Interestingly, each student interprets that phrase quite differently. Some choose to hold the door open for someone, others will actually spend a day at the soup kitchen as you suggested. The best part is when I ask them to share their experiences the joy shows on their faces and in their excited voices!
It is difficult to not expect a certain result however, there are times, when individuals choose NOT to do the act of kindness. They will actually refuse. I am not sure of their reasons, but I step back and let karma do its thing.
John A. Miller on January 29, 2012:
Some time ago I entertained a couple in my home town.Paid for two nights in a motel. Took them to lunch. Introduced
them to key personnel for their business interests.
Spent several hours prior to and after their stay
doing errands on their behalf. I got not as much as
the customary "bread and butter" note. The next time
they came to town they did not contact me. When I informed them I was hurt, they claimed my kindness was
to put them under an obligation to me. COMMENTS?
Aamna Aamad from Pakistan on June 09, 2011:
Noah's ARK meant....act of random kindness...and it did change the world.
great hub,voted up
lovelylizzy from Bahamas on October 27, 2010:
i think this is beautiful.but i don't know.i am a preteen.
I don't want people to think i like them with all this.IF you lived in the Bahamas,you'd understand even more.i also don't want people to think i am gay.i am a naturally nice person,but around my school,where i live,even at the mall,this can't be appreciated much.i already get teased enough as it is.any tips? :P P.s.,that song right there,don't laugh at me,is my new favorite. :D u rule.i wanna be one of THE ONES to change the world.i know disney is totally sappy,but listen to disney's send it on
CreativeOrange on February 12, 2010:
What a friendly hub! I also do hubs on kindness.
maggs224 from Sunny Spain on April 30, 2009:
I loved this page, it is positive and uplifting, your hubs are great to explore. I think living your life choosing to fill it with acts of kindness is a blueprint to the best way to live and you can't lose living that way no matter how it is received or interpreted by others.
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 26, 2009:
It's mutual, Sir!
mdawson17 on April 26, 2009:
I loved this hub Everyday Miracles! You have an ability to make your writing come alive! I look forward to seeing your next hub! I follow every hub that you put out there good work!
Becki Rizzuti (author) from Indiana, USA on April 26, 2009:
Thank you Darlene Marie! I agree with you both :)
DarleneMarie from USA on April 26, 2009:
I agree with Feline Prophet, most people are kind. Unfortunately, just as in our everyday life - not everyone is kind. I prefer to gravitate toward those kind and gentle spirits. Nice Hub!
Feline Prophet on April 25, 2009:
I think most people have a kindness 'gene' - unfortunately sometimes it gets overwhelmed by the business of daily life and we forget to use it. Thanks for reminding us EM. :)