My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. – The Dalai Lama
Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? Maybe someone let you go ahead in the grocery store line because you only had one item. The driver in the car ahead of you at the toll booth paid your toll. A friend you haven’t talked to in a while called for no reason at all. If you’ve been on the receiving end of such an act of kindess, you know how wonderful it feels.
Research suggests that positive emotions help contribute to better physical and emotional health. Kindness is a beautiful way to supercharge your health. Kindness is a quality that I look for in almost every person I form any kind of relationship with – it matters that much to me. Kindness to cats, and all animals, is the most important to me, but kindness to other human beings is a close second. One of my pet peeves: people who are unkind to waiters or other service personnel.
I found myself thinking a lot about kindness this past week, as I was watching all the coverage about Hurricane Sandy. Despite the devastation and the almost unbelievable hardships people in the areas hardest hit by the storm were enduring, kindness to others seemed to be everywhere. You would think that perhaps losing everything would lead to a me first, survival of the fittest mentality, but instead, we’ve been seeing pictures of people helping others. Whether it’s people checking in on neighbors, taking in homeless families, or providing freezer space and a warm shower, stories of altruistic acts of caring abounded. I remember seeing one photo make the rounds on Facebook that seemed to embody this spirit: a tangle of extension cords and plugs was draped over a New York City sidewalk stair rail, with a sign that said “We have power. Please recharge your cell phone.”
Small random acts of kindness can brighten anyone’s day – and the nice thing is, they make both the giver and the recipient feel good. Here are some suggestions:
- Hold the door open for someone.
- Give up your seat on the subway.
- Smile at someone, just because.
- Leave a larger than normal tip.
- Look a homeless person in the eye when you offer them food or money.
- Send a greeting card to a friend for no reason at all.
Do cats perform random acts of kindness? Sometimes, I think they do. Allegra is not much of a lap cat, but there are times when, out of the blue, she’ll jump up on my lap and settle in for a short nap. Unlike Ruby, my little velcro cat who is in my lap all the time, these moments are so random, and special, that they could quite possibly be Allegra’s way of a random act of kindness toward me.