I’m working on a story about random acts of kindness, and that means that I have to dedicate a considerable chunk of my time to making an effort to be nice. I’m using this website as a guide, trying to implement a number of their suggestions into my daily routine.
The suggestions run from the obvious (hold doors open for people, thank your taxi driver) to the frivolous (leave a really big tip, express your gratitude to a firefighter) to the bizarre (talk to a homeless person — this is just part of being a decent human being, yes, and not a public service?). Anyhow, I was relieved to find that I actually incorporate most of the more obvious suggestions into my daily life. As for the others, I’m making more of an effort. However, two suggestions that struck me as obvious were actually more challenging to implement than I anticipated.
First, listen to a friend. It seems obvious, right? I took a good friend out for belated birthday caipirinhas the other night. He had called me in a bit of a panic the night before, certain that he was losing his grip on a new relationship with a man he was truly smitten with. I showed up prepared to listen and he showed up prepared to talk. And talk he did — through our initial greeting, through drink and dinner orders, through my first cocktail and our crab tacos. I realized, about 20 minutes into our meal, that I was fighting back a desire to talk about myself. Ask me about my new boyfriend and all of my related neuroses! But instead I just gave the evening over to him. I listened, I gave advice, I reaffirmed how lovely he is and what he deserves in a partner. I think we both went home feeling happier.
Second, thank your parents. I like to think that I’m pretty grateful. Plus, my parents raised me to be polite. So along the way, I’ve thanked for parents for a lot of the nice things they’ve done for me — every birthday present, for example, and the times they’ve taken me out for dinner or on vacation or even for putting me through university. But I’ve never really thanked them for the less tangible things they’ve given me. I could thank my mother for passing on her senses of both humour and adventure. I could thank my father for his pragmatism, dependability and thoughtfulness. I haven’t figured out exactly what I want to say or how I want to express these things to my parents, but I feel like it’s something that would be much appreciated and make them pretty happy.
I guess that my mini meditations on kindness over the last couple of weeks have made me realize that the point of this exercise is to break away from some of the easier, everyday ways of being nice and challenging myself to be kind in unexpected, less simple ways. Plus, it’ll give me an excuse to drop by that firehouse around the corner to express my thanks while checking out the eye candy. (Kindness doesn’t have to be totally selfless, right?)