I was in the drive-thru at Starbucks the other day when I was surprised by an unexpected act of kindness. As I got to the window to pay, the barista informed me that the person in front of me had paid my bill.
What a wonderful gesture! Something so small and yet so impactful. The person in front of me gave without expecting anything in return and in fact it really was not possible for that person to even receive recognition. It also reminded me that in this season that is often times marked by greed, consumerism, etc., there are still people who are thinking of others. Even more, I wanted to do the same–in fact I felt a responsibity to honor the actions of the person in front on me and pay it forward.
Imagine now, if you applied this concept to your work, family, school, or volunteer organization. What if, especially during this holiday season, you did something unexpected for someone else? What if you volunteered to take a very undesirable task? Or you gave a coworker, teacher, or friend unsolicitied feedback regarding something they have recently done well? Or you bought a stranger’s meal?
I think sometimes we feel our acts need to be magnanimous, on a large scale, affecting the lives of many, possibly changing their lives forever. But really, how many of us will be able to make that kind of impact on that kind of scale? We can however do little acts of generousity and kindness that over a lifetime amount to a monumental impact.
The wonderful thing about an unexpected act of kindness is that it plants a seed…you are setting an example for others to follow, you are reminding others how it feels to be thought of, you are inspiring others to pay it forward. As Lao-Tsu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, is quoted as saying, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”