Suspicion meets the purveyor of random kindness

It’s been a very long time since I reported from Gretchen’s Happiness blog. I’m still following it, but she’s such a prolific writer that I don’t find the time to read all of her posts. This one caught my eye though, because it’s a pass-time of mine to practice random kindness and I don’t want to know that it’s not appreciated!

However, I don’t think I’ve ever put money in other people’s meters or given flowers to strangers. Don’t think I’d ever do that. Even before reading this article I suspected that people might find that suspicious – and also, it seems more like an act of demonstrative kindness than just mere kindness, doesn’t it? My pet random kindness is one I get to practice almost every day – kindness in traffic. When you let people out from side roads with a cost of maybe 4 seconds to your own ETA, it’s such easy points and it’s such a pleasure to see the relieved smile on the other person’s face. I should mention to the Danish readers that the English motorists are much, MUCH better at this than we Danes are. Actually, it’s quite embarrassing! Which is also why acts of kindness in traffic give more bonus in Denmark than they do over here! There are of course many other kinds – lots of things you can do in the supermarket for instance, in the bus or on the train. Even on the plane! On my last trip to Denmark I sat next to an elderly lady who was clearly in pain, probably arthritis. When we landed I took out her stuff for her from the overhead compartment, really a very small act of kindness, which I wouldn’t recall today if it wasn’t for her suspicious gaze and check on her bag to see if I’d opened it! When she saw that nothing had been tampered with she got a really guilty look on her face and muttered apologetically that “you don’t know who to trust these days”… And I’m no hooded teenager, I’m a middle-aged woman!

I think it’s a sad sad state of affairs that small acts of kindness, which usually, one should hurry to point out, come at no cost to the purveyor, have become so rare, that they are treated with suspicion! Can’t we reinstate kindness as a preferred way to behave? When it doesn’t cost you anything and it makes you fell good, what’s there to loose?

My older son likes to help elderly ladies with their shopping, picking up stuff they drop, helping them across the street or up stairs or whatever. He does it for fun, he says. Because he doesn’t exactly wear a shirt and tie, has unruly curly locks and often wears a hoodie, some of the elderly ladies are genuinely shocked, because young men who look like him are not supposed to behave like that. They are supposed to mug elderly ladies, not help them. So he’s quite used to meeting suspicion, when he acts kindly.

Why not go out tomorrow and do a random act of kindness and then go home and tell me about it. I’ll do one too and report it. It’s not bragging, it’s purely scientific. How did it make you feel? What are your preferred random kindness tactics? Have you experienced suspicion?

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En tanke om “Suspicion meets the purveyor of random kindness”

  1. Hello there! I like your blog and I just came across it – and see, someone did reply to this particular “RAofK” blog. As I personally go through life, I make an effort to either leave everything the way I found it or make it better. There are some who, as they go through their lives, create drama, chaos and mischief, taking energy away from others. But there are some who go through life being to themselves and if needed take the time to smile, help, and give back in some way. In my opinion, it’s the only way to go through life.

    Random Acts of Kindness happens billions of times a day all over the world. It is the very few (and even at .05% it is millions of times a day), that ruin it for the others. One example which has stuck in my head since it happens maybe 15 years ago:

    As a tourist, you always need change for the subway, etc. and I would always ask a stranger to break a denomination so I can purchase a ticket. This is especially happens when there are no open ticket counter people just automatic machines. Anyways, one instance, on a sunny day in Paris, I remember a little girl asking me to help her break a 50 Euro note, which I did. I felt something funny, I can’t explain it. The next day I went to the post office and gave the 50 Euro note, only to find out it was counterfeit. It floored me that someone would do that – how people are so heartless. Now, if anyone asks me for help, what do I do? Do I just say no or do I help again, but this time be much more careful and look at the note?

    I decided to be careful next time and look at the note carefully. I won’t let one negative effect me.

    In your case, letting someone go in traffic, smiling, saying thank you – is HUGE. And I believe what you put out into the world, you’ll get back ten-fold. It’s the laws of nature.

    Great blog –

    George

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