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How Your Small, Random Acts of Kindness Change the World

Becki is a mother of four who has been an online writer for more than 12 years.

Even a small act of kindness can make a major impact!

Even a small act of kindness can make a major impact!

Kindness Can Change the World

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?

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?

How Do Acts of Kindness Impact 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 beggar 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.

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.

Examples of Random Acts of Kindness

Some examples of ways you could perform a random act of kindness:

  • 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 and 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.

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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 kindness? 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.

No Act of Kindness Is Too 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 above on YouTube. Although it is several 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!

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