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random acts of kindness

karma,Starbucks, starbucks effect, random acts of kindness,kindness

Have you ever heard of the Starbucks effect?

I’m not referring to the theory that Starbucks will boost the price of your home, but that is a thing. I’m talking about the kindness of strangers.

“Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you,” it’s the Golden rule. I’ve heard it since I was a little child. It boils down to this… put out into the world what you want to get back. It’s karma for those so inclined.

In my 20’s I was self-centered, everything was about me. When I got married, I had my first experience of occasionally putting someone else’s needs and wants before my own. Then I had children and putting others before myself has become my full-time job.

Over the years, I’ve found myself doing more good but still that selfish little voice in my head kept asking, “When’s it my turn? When will someone do something nice for me?” I just sort of got tired of always giving of myself. Now that I think of it, I wasn’t giving so much as having it taken. I did nice things because I felt it was expected.

Then my perspective of the world changed, we moved to Chesterfield, VA and I was on the receiving end of several random acts of kindness from complete strangers. These women changed my perception of the world. For the first time, aside from my parents, someone was doing something kind for me with absolutely no expectation. It was so out of my ordinary that at first, I was suspicious. What did they really want?

I decided, then and there, that while I cannot control how someone else responds or reacts to my kindness or goodwill, I would live by the good rule because I’m responsible for my behavior. I can put all the good I want into the world but I had to let go of my expectation that the others would reciprocate, care or even appreciate my act.

Then, I had an epiphany. Who cares if they don’t appreciate it? I feel good when I do good so I’m doing good. I let go of the whole idea of putting good out there so good would come back to me and then it did.

I believe that our simple acts of kindness that we do throughout the day, they cause ripples and eventually we get caught in the tide of our own ripples so next time you find yourself deciding whether you should take an extra second to hold the door for a stranger, smile back at someone for no reason at all, give a dollar to a homeless person or share on an opportunity or helpful advice with someone who you think might be a good fit or need it, just do it. Don’t over think it. You can’t control what others do with the gifts you give but you can take joy in knowing you cared enough to give the gift and tried to help someone else.

I know everyone says this and I know many of us don’t immediately see the effects of our good deeds and that may leave you wondering, why bother? Let me tell you a little story.

I once received a cup of coffee in one of those Starbucks lines, when the person ahead of me paid for my latte. It was the first time this had ever happened to me and I had no idea this was a “thing” or that there was a “protocol”, so I took my latte, said thank you and was happy for the rest of the day. The more I thought of it, I realized that I should have paid it forward and bought the person’s behind me. It was what was probably expected.

Last week, I finally paid it forward. I ordered my Oprah Chia Latte, pulled up to pay and then said, “ I’d like to pay for the person behind me too!” Then I looked in my rearview mirror, and saw it was another mom. She looked exhausted and I saw myself in her. I pulled away feeling good. I felt good for rest of my day and it only cost me $4.50. I mean, who knew happiness was so damn cheap? I’m hoping that my simple gesture brightened her day, at the very least I saved her $5.00, right?

The thing is last week I got 3 new freelance jobs and scheduled an interview for another job. Maybe it was coincidence but I’d like to think that my little ripple has caught me in its tide. I put out into the world what I wanted so, guess what I did this morning (what I will be doing every Monday morning)? I bought another person a cup of coffee and I saw her smile in my rearview mirror when she pulled up to the window and she didn’t have to pay and THAT made my day. If I can brighten someone else’s day by such a simple gesture, why wouldn’t I do it every single time I can?

What random acts of kindness do you do when no one is looking?

I get that buying Starbucks for someone won’t change the world,  but it might change someone’s day and that’s enough reason for me.


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I’ve been mulling over something that I really want to instill in my children…random acts of kindness. I used to be one of those people who saw the bumper stickers and thought to myself, that’s great but..whatever. I mean really, who has times to run around randomly being kind to one another? And if you do, what do you get out of it? Unappreciative ignorance? That was me, a year ago, sarcastic, jaded, unappreciative me. Today, I am a believer in random acts of kindness.I’m more than a believer , I am a proponent:)
In the past year, my life has changed quite a bit. I have had to put my life in the hands of others and quite literally, be dependent on the kindness of strangers because I had no choice. I was new in town, I was friendless, I was completely out of my element, and what felt like a million miles from everything and everyone I knew. It all started with a Mommy, just like any one of you, who did not know me. We were in a MOPS group I joined. We were talking, first day chit chat, and she knew I was new to town. Asking how I was getting along in a new place, if I’d joined any other activities, etc. In passing, I mentioned that I wanted to join the local Stroller Striders but ,unfortunately, had left my stroller in my house ( we were transitioning, corporate housing and all that). This woman, this complete stranger, offered me one of her strollers.  I was floored.What? Was this really happening? Was someone being generous and kind for no obvious reason other than to be a good human being and help a fellow human being out? What? What? What? That evening, that very same evening, she brought me a gently loved Nordic jogging stroller.I was amazed.
Then I met another friend,one of the most amazing women , I have ever met in my life. The kind of woman who at first glance you may think, who is this broad? Seriously, she was so  “sweet” I kept thinking, is she crazy or is she for real. I had never met anyone like her, and am pretty sure I never will again. She met me, she put 100%into the friendship, and was a walking ball of random acts of kindness. One day I was feeling under the weather, and for no other reason than  the fact that she is an amazing human being, she brought over lunch for my kids. Then dinner for my family that night. My kids were sick, she brought them treats and coloring activities. Random brownies would appear. OH, how we miss those brownies:)LOL These may not sound like big gestures but they were constant, timely, and randomly the kindest thing anyone could do..when I needed them most and expected it the least. This was just a very small amount of what she did for us, what she still does for me. Her kindness parlayed into an amazing sisterhood between the two of us. Because of her random acts of kindness, I now have one of the best friends I could have ever asked for. Her random acts of kindness have inspired me to want to be a better person, and that has to mean something.
Then there was yesterday, my daughter’s preschool teacher (which my daughter no longer attends due to our recent relocation) called us and had the entire class sing Happy Birthday to my 5 year old over her cell phone.This random act of kindness may sound like a very small gesture but to my 5 year old, who has just had to leave all of her amazing friends, school, routine and relocate this meant the world. The joy that gesture made, the effect that simple act of kindness that her teacher , another amazing woman by my standards, had on my daughter.That is something that I can never repay because it is priceless.
These are just a few of the random acts of kindness that I have experienced in the past year; there’s been  chocolate for no reason at all, when I’ve needed it most. A hug when I’ve been sad, smiles when I’ve needed a little sunshine,girl talk and martini’s when I needed a breath, shopping and talking..its all about timing. Someone sitting a little longer with me at a gathering because I arrived late, someone giving me tickets to a concert for my kids that I couldn’t have gotten otherwise, there are so many random acts of kindness that I have been the recipient of that there are too many to  mention. But if you know me, chances are you have perpetrated a random act of kindness in my direction. Thanks for making me a better person. Random acts of kindness are so special because they are selfless and sometimes someone’s small random act of kindness can mean the world to someone who really needs that kindness and love in their life at that moment. Kindness can never hurt , it can only help! So be amazing, save a life; BE KIND!

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