In a similar vein as the gratitude journal, random acts of kindness can bring a lot of joy and happiness. Focusing on the positive actions we encounter on a daily basis is a great way to step away from negativity. At the same time, focusing on the positive actions we can bring to others is also a wonderful way to bring joy and happiness to our own life while also paying it forward, taking care of our Karma, and, if you think of it, making sure that others also have something to write about in their own gratitude journal.
In the last Montessori school where I worked, our Head of School had printed a text about random acts of kindness that she had posted around the school and I loved it. It was a little reminder about how our actions can mean so much to others and that taking a couple of minutes from our daily routine to do something for someone else was just another way to also bring joy and happiness to our immediate sphere. She herself sometimes brought us flowers for no reason, or even a cup of tea or some bread, and it was really wonderful to have our direct supervisor go out of her ways to do a little something for us for no specific reason… And the good thing is that it is contagious… Little by little, other people would start bringing goodies to work or would just offer to grab a cup of coffee for others while going on their own coffee run.
I myself may not be a goodies person. I am not that much of a baker unlike lovely Mama who used to bring the most delicious carrot cake cupcakes to school or even Jess who always brings us little treats such as her delicious banana bread or granola bars.
I think my random acts of kindness might be more of a different kind: I will try to say “bonjour” and “au revoir” to everyone that I encounter: neighbors, bus drivers, cashiers or strangers in the elevator; if the velo’v I just used (or tried to use) does not ride efficiently, I will turn the seat backward to let others know to keep away from it; I do my best to stay away from the doors when others enter or exit the subway and when I park my car, I always try to be conscious of the space I leave in front of and behind me so that I do not use more space than necessary and accidentally prevent someone else from finding a parking spot.
At the same time, I try not to get too frustrated when others do not behave the same way because I know that none of us are perfect: this morning, I stepped on someone’s foot and did not even apologize because I was still half asleep and my brain just stalled. Still, being conscious of little acts of kindness or demonstrating common courtesy does bring me happiness. It helps me focus on all the good things that surround us and enables me to see the glass half full instead of half empty as much as possible.
The bottom line remains the same: we all try to do the best we can and tolerance can go such a long way.
Small Gestures Make a Big Difference
Common Courtesy by Madisyn Taylor
Common courtesy is a small gesture that makes a big difference and should be practiced as often as possible. We often feel that we don’t have the time or energy to extend ourselves to others with the small gestures that compose what we call common courtesy. It sometimes seems that this kind of social awareness belongs to the past, to smaller towns and slower times. Yet, when someone extends this kind of courtesy to us, we always feel touched. Someone who lends a helping hand when we are struggling with our groceries makes an impression because many people just walk right by. Even someone who simply makes the effort to look us in the eye, smile, and greet us properly when entering a room stands out of the crowd. It seems these people carry with them the elegance and grace of another time, and we are always thankful for our contact with them. Common courtesy is a small gesture that makes a big difference.
An essential component of common courtesy is awareness and common sense—looking outside yourself to see when someone needs help or acknowledgment. As a courteous person, you are aware that you are walking into a room full of people or that your waiter has arrived to take your order. Then, awareness leads to action. It is usually quite clear what needs to be done—open the door for the woman holding the baby, move your car up two feet so another person can park behind you, acknowledge your sister’s shy boyfriend with a smile and some conversation, apologize if you bump into someone. A third component is to give courtesy freely, without expecting anything in return. People may not even take notice, much less return the kindness, but you can take heart in the fact that you are creating the kind of world you want to live in with your actions.
When you are out in the world, remember to be aware of others, lend your hand when one is needed, and give this help without an ulterior motive. Through these small actions, you make this world a better place in which to live.