Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly,
and most underrated agent of human change.
My family and I moved from Arizona to North Carolina early this summer. It was decided that my wife and daughters would travel by airplane and I would embark on a four-day solo drive across the country.
My first destination was Albuquerque, New Mexico. In the early hours of the drive I learned that we had finally closed the sale of my previous company. Towards the evening, I learned that my family arrived safely to North Carolina. In between, I had many hours of music, solitude, and thinking about what was around the corner – a new home and a new career.
After checking in to my hotel, I walked around downtown Albuquerque in search of dinner. Upon finding the perfect restaurant, I settled into my table, ordered dinner, and started reading my book. After awhile, I noticed a small group at the table next to me. They were having a great time and laughing a lot. The gentleman started some small talk and shared that it was his wife’s birthday. They appeared to be very nice people and a fun family.
I was feeling very happy and wanted to do something special, so I asked my waiter to put the birthday party’s tab on my bill. As you can imagine, they were very surprised and thankful for my unexpected kindness. The group introduced themselves and invited me to an after-dinner drink. I thanked them but declined, as I was ready to turn in for the night and reflect on the day’s events. We said goodnight and parted ways.
When I arrived back to my hotel, I noticed the birthday party at the front desk. They followed me to my hotel and again asked if they could buy me a drink. Accepting this time, we sat on the rooftop bar and got to know each other. It was a lovely evening that felt like meeting six new friends. I went to bed feeling very happy and grateful.
I woke the next morning, packed my stuff, and walked down to the lobby to check out. To my surprise, the group paid for my hotel stay and left a handwritten card of thanks. Wow!
This is how it happens. One unexpected act of kindness leads to another, and then another, and so on. Acts of kindness create more kindness. Acts of hostility create more hostility. It is true that one reaps what one sows.
Here are a few tips I have learned about unexpected kindness and the power of giving:
- Everyone has something they can give – whether it’s time, kindness, money, something they no longer use or need, etc.
- Giving is good for both the giver and the receiver.
- Determine what you have in excess (time, kindness, money, something you no longer use or need, etc.) and then give within your means.
- Look for opportunities to give back that which you have received. (Pay it forward!)
There are countless ways to give your time, money, and kindness. You can leave an extra generous tip after dinner, or volunteer at a local soup kitchen. You can shovel your neighbor’s driveway, or send your Aunt Milly some flowers. You can pay for a stranger’s coffee in line at Starbucks, or donate your gently worn clothing to charity. No matter the effort, I am certain that your acts of kindness will make you and the recipient happier.
Cheers to unexpected kindness and giving! Share your ideas in the comments below.
Image via Death to the Stock Photo