Random Acts of Kindness

It was a week that was hi-jacked by your basic nasty cold.

Sore throat, fever, guttural coughing. Grim. The life I had planned came to a sudden halt. Bedtime. Rest. Antibiotics. And because I feel so vulnerable, I am doubly touched by the random acts kindness that come my way.

Ty, king of the condo-building next to my house, calls to tell me he likes the new landscaping that we just installed at the start of the week.

The neighborhood really appreciates you, Ty says. Ty never calls me. He didn’t HAVE to call me. I am buoyed by his comment.

Lucia, my neighbor to the other side, sends over a juicy mango. When I dash to my local pharmacy at 4 AM to grab some cold medicine, I so appreciate that I live in a country where you can get this stuff at 4 AM. And instead of encountering a sullen worker itching for his shift to end, I am treated to a round of social banter with Ricardo, a cashier with superb conversational skills.

Random acts of kindness. Unexpected. Not required. Beyond the call of duty.

I think of all the little ways in which we can lift each other’s energy, every day. An essential life skill. A personal success skill. A game-changing leadership skill.

As I channel-surf one evening, I stumble on a TV-chat between the actress Debra Winger and the actor Alec Baldwin. Ms. Winger, who starred in her first Broadway production a few years back, the play “The Anarchist” by David Mamet, is remembering the moment when Mr. Baldwin burst into her dressing room after just having attended the performance. Both chuckle.

But what you didn’t know, Alec, Ms. Winger elaborates, is that when I left the stage door that evening, the producers were waiting to tell us that the play was closing early. I had no idea they would or could do this. We were already a limited run. And we had had a full house!  

Mr. Baldwin reads about the closing notice in the papers the following day. He returns to Ms. Winger’s dressing room again that night, simply to reassure her that her acting in the show is great.

That, Ms. Winger says, I will never forget. Ms. Winger and Mr. Baldwin are not close friends.

Random acts of kindness. They energize the world around us. They cost nothing. Their impact transcends the act itself in ways we cannot possibly know.

The only requirement is a conscious mind.

As you go through your week, notice your “kindness instincts.” When you have a fond thought of someone. When you appreciate what someone has done. When you are delighted by an unexpected turn of events. And instead of letting this instinct slip away – express it in an act of kindness.

It will energize the other person. It will energize you. Yippeee.  A cosmic win.