Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Focus on Gratitude . . .

by Kim

"Two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take;
the larger kind we feel for what we give."
- Edwin Arlington Robinson

One morning I had to get some blood work done, and upon entering the room the technician and I said the typical "good morning" to each other. I'm a rather chatty person so it wasn't at all unusual for good morning to turn into a conversation, but, that turned into an (Oh. My. Goodness.) conversation that included way too much information . . . 45 minutes worth! I should include here, that there was no one else in the waiting room at the time.

I really did for just a second consider telling her that I needed to get somewhere, but as she went on it was clear that she just really needed someone to talk to and someone to listen. She had just become the guardian of her 2 year old grand daughter who had been taken by C.P.S. from her own grown daughter, who is bi-polar and not taking her meds AND pregnant with her second child, who was living with her boy friend and both of whom had no job. Whew! And even though she raised two daughters (by herself) she seemed at a loss of what to do as the two year old was keeping her up at night, and listened intently as I shared a few ideas. As we got to the end of our conversation, I felt such empathy for this woman. She was kind and had a gentle touch, and was very good at what she did, but she was clearly tired and stressed. 

It was finally time for me to go, and at just the moment that I stood up, someone new came in. I asked the woman (the tech) if I could give her a hug and she didn't just hug me back, but embraced me and quietly said "thank you". Okay, so about now I was feeling a little choked up, and as strange as it sounds I was glad she shared her story with me. Because even though she thanked me I was feeling grateful that she felt comfortable sharing what she did with me, even if I was a stranger. She reminded me that on the surface we never know the story behind someones face. Behind tired, angry, sad, frustrated strangers there is a story, and I for one know the kindness and gratitude strangers have shown me in the past especially when I first moved here.

So, what does coffee have to do with any of this?

Well, when I left I went straight to the drive-through at Starbucks. I ordered a coffee and a pastry, the order came to $7.04 and when I got to the window she told me that the lady in front of me paid had already taken care of it. WOW! Really? I had never had that happen to me before, where someone paid my order in a drive-through. A pay it forward, random act of kindness kind of thing. I have to admit, it made me feel kind of special.

In the weeks that followed, at the same Starbucks I received several more pay if forward coffee's and played along and paid it right back to the person behind me and I have to say that it's really fun to do. A random act of kindness done to one is a random act of kindness done to many others because it's contagious. Holding the door, letting a car go in line before you, or even giving up your spot in line at the grocery store. Random acts of kindness are just that, kind, and don't necessarily have to cost anything, but our time and thoughtfulness.

And I'm sure you have all read notes of encouragement left somewhere, maybe the bathroom stall, or graffiti on a building, or even a sign on the back of someones car. The whole random thing combined with encouragement got me to thinking, wouldn't it be fun to leave notes in places for people to find them, and put a smile on their face. So I've decided to make some small cards, with photos and either a quote or just an encouraging note to leave in the bathroom, or put on the windshield of someones car, or to have the girl in the Starbucks drive-through give to the person behind me. {insert giggle}

I guess my point to telling the story about the woman, and the random acts of coffee is to remind myself and all of you that every random act of kindness has the power to impact someones day, and put a smile on someones face, and make them feel like someone cares, even if it was from a stranger. I've been on both sides I can say that the gratitude felt is always bigger when I give rather than receive.

I would love to hear from you about a time that you were on either end of a random act of kindness. Share it in the comments, inquiring minds want to know! And it will give us each some great ideas to try.




Jan said...

Great idea about the notes! I've been on both ends of the random acts of kindness, and I can definitely say that no one loses. It's a beautiful movement, and one I'm happy to see growing! A delightful article, and I'm happy for the tech's sake you had bloodwork drawn on the very day she needed you. Hope your results shine with good health!

terriporter said...

Great post, Kim! I have heard about the Starbuck's random acts but I have never had it happen to me. Then just last week I stopped in to Subway to grab a sandwich and when I went to pay, the gentleman at the cash register told me it had already been paid for! I have to say, I went around with a smile on my face the whole day and now have done it several times in various places for someone else. You are so right -- it's definitely contagious! Love your idea of the cards too!

Dotti said...

There is so much packed into this little post. First of all, yes ... we should all pass along random acts of kindness as often as we can. But as I reflected on the post, I couldn't help but expand my thoughts ... How much better our world would be if more and more and more people would do this each and every day. By doing this we learn to truly "see" other people and their needs ... needs not so very different from our own. We could solve a lot of problems. It seems so simple ... why can't we do it?

Comfypjs said...

I love the idea of 'random acts of kindness'! I do have to say that I so wish that it wasn't something that someone thought up but a way of life from one human being to another. I am going to steal your idea and make some cards of my own to leave around for people to find. Back in the 80's I started paying the bridge toll for the person behind me every time I cross a bridge. I can hardly wait to leave the little notes :)

kelly said...

i love this story so much kim. you just got a big, wet kiss on the cheek from the universe. :)

Carol said...

And you are so right that it spreads! After watching some TV show on this idea a few years ago, I was in live behind a teenaged couple -girl was crying boy was looking confused. Turns out they had an expired credit card, had already gotten gas and couldnt pay for it. I stuck it on my credit card - I figured I would want someone to do that if my daughter was standing in a station crying. Shortly after something nice was done for me. Dotti s question is good - why cant we all do it more?

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

Aww what lovely stories!!! That human connection is always so amazing. Thank you for sharing!!

Sherri B. said...

What an uplifting post...you have reminded me how good it feels to engage in a random act of kindness. I try to be thoughtful of others every day but do tend to hold back at times because of my shyness. That's why the anonymous RAKs appeal to me! You were that woman's angel that day, Kim...it's obvious that you helped her tremendously when she was carrying such a burden and needed to talk. I love the idea of making cards to leave in random places...thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I love this. I had been the listening ears for strangers in the store on numerous occasions. I'm not sure why, but people often just start talking to me, telling me their stories. One day I stood and listened to a woman in Micheal's for over a half an hour. I think you just never know how that time of listening and honoring another's story might change their lives and comfort their soul.

Recently, my 3rd grade daughter's school had an assembly where they watched a video about kindness and paying it forward. My daughter summed it up (in front of the whole school!) like this: It's like a positive virus, kindness is spreading like a germ!

In response to several people who've asked, Why can't more people do it, why can't it just be a way of life? I think that as we all do it more, it becomes more and more of a way of life. And off in the future, maybe not even so far off, it will become a way of life. It is in the doing that it becomes that way of life - kindness spreading like a positive virus and infecting everyone who's touched by it.

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing part of your day with us. If for any reason you are unable to leave a comment here on this post, please leave your comment on our Facebook page or in our Flickr discussion group. We love hearing from you!

© Focusing On Life