Random Acts of Kindness

Post image for Random Acts of Kindness

March 7, 2013

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.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Malissa Marshall March 7, 2013 at 8:39 AM

I witnessed a random act of kindness at work. I work at a retail store and was helping a customer choose clothing to wear at her grandfather’s funeral. She mentioned that he had just passed away the day before. She was very upset, and had a difficult time making a decision. I began to ring up the items she had chosen, when another customer walked up. She explained that she overheard us talking, and then told my customer that she had enough to worry about right now, so she would pay for the items. My customer began to sob and thanked the kind stranger. They hugged. My coworker and I began to cry as well.

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Jeanette March 7, 2013 at 9:13 AM

Malissa,

I love hearing stories like this. What a beautiful gesture.

Jeanette

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Wendy Lyons March 7, 2013 at 8:42 AM

I had a similar situation happen at the grocery store. The older lady in front of me was trying to pay for her groceries but her card kept getting declined. People behind me were starting to grumble and the cashier was getting snippy. I moved up and said “Here, let me get that for you.” and swiped my debit card. Just like Deanne, it made my day to be able to help her out.

Afterwards, she insisted she pay me back. I gave her my business card but told her it really wasn’t necessary. A few weeks later I got a check in the mail and a really sweet thank you card. It turns out she had been the victim of identity theft and her account had been closed!

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Jeanette March 7, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Wendy,

That is so awesome! You shed a bright light on her day.

Jeanette

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Maria @dailydownwarddog March 7, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Oohhh I’m getting warm fuzzies all over! Keep the comments coming – I love hearing your stories!!

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Jeanette March 7, 2013 at 9:10 AM

Maria,

Wow, I got all teary reading this. Not only because of the Random Act of Kindness but because the woman said she had always wanted to do that for someone. I think the hardest part of doing a RAOK is that we feel we don’t have many opportunities to do them. But we do! They are all around us.

I’m so glad you found your wallet, I felt your panic all the way in Miami ;)

Thank you so much for giving a karmic hug to my blog. I really appreciate it. You are a source of inspiration for me and I feel extremely honored.

Jeanette

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Debbie March 7, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Last July my husband and I were returning to FL from a road trip that took us all the way to a Maine campground. Stayed with friends in Annapolis overnight after a long driving day with a few rest breaks. Continued south the next day, stopping for gas in VA. At that point my husband reached into his pants pocket searching for his wallet. Nowhere in sight. So this didn’t surprise me. The man loses the beard attached to his face. Paid with my credit card, alerted our friends to scour their house for the wallet, tore our truck apart, and continued home. When it was apparent the wallet wasn’t going to surface, the day after our return he cancelled all his credit cards, got a new driver’s license etc. I kept telling him, based on another lost item Pay It Forward experience we had in Montreal the year before, the wallet would appear. He said I was eating too much granola and preaching “woo woo” platitudes and that it was lost, gone, kaput. You know the rest of the story… about two weeks later a small package arrived in the mail with no return address but the cancellation stamp indicated it originated in a small town in CT between Springfield, MA and Hartford. Ta da. Inside, nestled in a sheet of legal paper was my husband’s wallet, complete with credit cards, license, and the $26 he had in cash. Printed on the sheet was the message, “found in rest stop in CT”. That was it. No one to thank. Until now. I’m putting the story out there to the universe and sending “woo woo” gratitude to that wonderful person.

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Maria @dailydownwarddog March 7, 2013 at 10:51 PM

Woo Hoo Indeed! Thanks for sharing this story Debbie <3

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Carolyn Harris March 7, 2013 at 11:14 AM

I loved your story. I enjoy paying for the military men and women meals or coffee. The most fun is to pay and they don’t know who paid for their food or drink. I also make scarves and if I am out and someone compliments me on my scarf I remove the scarf and give it to the person. I have received so many hugs and it makes my day.

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Maria @dailydownwarddog March 7, 2013 at 10:52 PM

Carolyn – Sending you a big virtual hug right now!

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Ben March 7, 2013 at 11:28 AM

That random act happened to me last December when crosiing the Mackinaw Bridge. Got to toll booth and attendant said no charge. Asked why and she said driver ahead paid. Random Act…Way cool. Passed on on on the trip home. Got to keep the Karma going.

And Deanne is a great driver for our company.

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Dominique Chatterjee March 8, 2013 at 11:14 AM

I’ve been fortunate to be on the receiving end of multiple random acts of kindness in my life, and one really stands out. When I was 19 and moved to Portland, OR, money was super, super tight. I had a a coupon for $5 off $50 at Safeway and shopped really carefully to pick up a ton of essentials and just hit the $50 mark. But at the checkout, my debit card was declined even though there was money in the account. I was so upset and frustrated! The person in line behind me very generously stepped up to pay my whole bill and buy me a week’s worth of food. It was obviously nothing to them, but it meant everything to me.

Thanks, random stranger. All these years later I still remember that moment and am so grateful. And thanks, Maria, for helping me recall that touching story.

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Candace | YogaByCandace March 18, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Reading about random acts of kindness always makes me cry happy tears! I love this story- thank you for sharing! You’ve inspired me!

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Rachel {at} It's a Hero March 26, 2013 at 1:02 PM

I adore random acts! And I LOVE passing them on!

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