Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back By Popular Demand

     Well, it seems that more people than I realized look forward to reading these kindness stories regularly, and more importantly, draw some inspiration from them.  So . . . I'll keep on writing, though not quite every day.  In this post, I'll recount a story from yesterday as well as one from today.
     The other day I received a text from a friend who asked if she could meet with me to get my thoughts and insights on some business ideas she was very excited about.  It had some urgency for her so I agreed to meet with her quickly (which meant yesterday - Jan 1st).  We spent several hours together and hopefully I was able to provide some of the insight she was looking for.  
     We each have networks we've built of friends, family members, work associates, church members, etc.  These people are a great source of information, resources, and connections.  And it's all based on a loose sense of "quid pro quo."  A notion that if I help people in my network, there will be a time at some point where I need help and they will be there for me.  I don't think of it like any type of IOU; rather it's a more generalized sense of people helping each other out knowing, in a vague kind of way, that "what goes around comes around."  I was glad to play my part in this interconnected chain.

     Today presented another simple opportunity to be kind to a stranger.  I went to the post office this afternoon to mail a book and an audio book to a client.  For some strange reason, the line was longer than I've ever seen there - even longer than right before Christmas.  There were literally at least 15-20 people in line in our small post office, and there were only 1 or 2 clerks working the desk. I settled in for a long wait, not really minding too terribly since I wasn't in a hurry and I saw a few people I knew who I could talk to.
     Right in front of me was an older woman with a package she needed to send off and it had a postage paid label on it.  I suggested to her that rather than having her wait in that long line, I'd be happy to take it to the counter with me when my turn came up.  She was quite thankful as I saved her quite a bit of time.
     Interestingly, a bit later, another woman in front of me, who I guess had seen what I was doing, asked if the older woman was a friend of mine.  When I explained that I didn't know who she was but just thought it would be nice to do her a favor, the woman was touched.  
     One of the things I've noticed is that there are certain acts of kindness that virtually all of us would naturally do.  For example, if someone right in front of you drops their books, most of us would likely be quick to help pick them up.  However, other acts of kindness require a different level of initiative.  They require us to reach beyond our normal sphere and proactively do something kind for another.  Those are the things I really tried to look for last year and that's the habit I tried to cultivate.  The fact that I so easily saw the opportunity at the post office today suggests to me that my effort to create a kindness habit is working.

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