I’ve always been a big fan of paying it forward. If someone does a good deed for me, I strive to carry that goodness forward. Last week I was reading Om the Moment, a lovely blog by Jeanette, a Miami-based yoga teacher who writes about this concept regularly. She encourages others to perform random acts of kindness (ROAK) every week and has inspired me to do just that.

Little did I know that instead, in a chance twist of fate, I would be the recipient of a random act of kindness!

Saturday morning I left to drive to Vermilion to teach yoga. Since the drive is long, I decided I would stop on the turnpike to grab a cup of coffee and something to eat. I went into Panera Bread at a rest stop and ordered a coffee and a bagel. As they were preparing my order, I opened up my purse to get my wallet.

But it was nowhere to be found!

I began desperately rifling through my purse (which is really not a purse, but a ginormous catch-all where items have been known to go missing for months), sure that it was hidden somewhere. Then I started looking into all of the hidden compartments where I sometimes stash away emergency money, but of course none of them were funded now that I needed it most. This has never happened to me before, and – extremely flustered and embarrassed – I looked up at the cashier to let him know that I had no money to pay for what I had ordered. Red-faced, I continued to stammer on about how sorry I was when a woman behind me in line said, “Don’t worry, honey. I’ll pay for you.” I turned around in disbelief, and she was already handing the cashier the money to pay.

Her name was Deanne, and I thanked her profusely more than once and gave her a big hug. We were both putting cream in our coffee together and got to talk for a few more minutes when Deanne said to me, “Thank you so much. You made my day. I’ve always wanted to do that for someone.”

Deanne and Maria

Deanne and me!

I couldn’t believe that she was thanking me when she was the one who totally made my day!

The cool thing about this interaction was that Deanne had a huge smile on her face. In fact, I could swear she was glowing, and I know why. When you do a good deed for someone, it just makes you feel damn good! There is scientific research that claims that when you do something selfless for others, it sets off the same kind of chemical reaction in your brain as if you ate a piece of chocolate or had great sex! Wanna feel good today? Do a good deed and trigger that chemical reaction. It doesn’t have to be monetary – you can do a good deed just by smiling at a stranger, giving someone a hug, or paying them a compliment.

When I got to my yoga classes on Saturday, I asked my students to send a big karmic hug to Deanne to wish her safe travels, and I sent her a big one too. I promised Deanne that I would pay her good deed forward, so watch out, random acts of kindness, because here I come! (And in case any of you are worried about my wallet, I misplaced it but found it later that day and am very thankful that it was not stolen.)

Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? I’d love to hear your story, so please share it below with a comment. That way I can send a karmic hug to your surprise do-gooders too.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter to win awesome incense from the cool peeps over at myInsens – this good smelling giveaway is open until March 11.