Stand Sure In Life
The Power Of Small Acts Of Kindness
A small thoughtful action can make someone’s day. It doesn’t need to be any grand proclamation or gesture. It just needs to be something you’ve done with the intention of bringing a moment of happiness or ease, or maybe a smile or a laugh. Sometimes, we worry how the thing will be taken, but truly if it’s done for the right reason and not our ego, it shouldn’t matter how it is received.
I knew someone who didn’t like scrambled eggs being put directly on the toast because it made it soggy. They preferred to have the eggs on the side. One afternoon I was preparing lunch for us and I’d remembered that. They were so touched by the gesture that they couldn’t stop saying thank you.
Little things like remembering how someone takes their tea or coffee, even if you’ve not seen them for ages, can have a huge impact. It makes the person feel valued. Remembering someone’s dietary requirements when booking a table at a restaurant because you want them to enjoy the occasion too, not because you feel obligated, shows you care.
Traditional etiquette and chivalry can mean a lot to someone, especially if you know those guidelines are important to them. As a rule I will always try and walk on the roadside of the pavement (sidewalk), of a woman. It’s something my grandma taught me and it stuck. Sometimes I get laughed at for doing it, but I don’t care because my intention is honourable.
Holding a door open for someone is just a nice thing to do. I will confess I sometimes utter a loud, sarcastic “YOU’RE SO WELCOME” if I don’t get thanks, but whether I get thanks or not really is irrelevant. I’ve done the right thing and we shouldn’t expect to get rewarded for doing so. Of course it is nice when it happens, but it should not be a motivating factor.
Are you at the supermarket with a trolley full of goods on the conveyor at the checkout and someone queues behind you with a chocolate bar, or a pint of milk, or a couple of items? What do you do? Letting them go before you isn’t going to actually add too much time to your time in the supermarket, but doing it could be the one good thing that happened to them that day.
We’re always in such a rush that we tend to forget that other’s are also in a rush. Is it a decent thing to make a person wait for ten minutes while you go through the checkout because you were there first, or could you afford to wait a moment to let them in front with their few items? How would you feel if the roles were reversed?
If your neighbour is away and forgotten to put the bin out you could do it for them. They may have asked another neighbour to do it, but if you’re there doing yours, what’s to stop you? “But they won’t do it for me.” That may be the case, but that’s not what this is about. It’s about helping someone out because it’s a nice thing to do.
In the same way if you go past your neighbours empty bin why not take it back for them? Okay if they have a locked garden gate you can’t put it back properly, but as long as it doesn’t get in the way it can’t do any harm. Again, it doesn’t matter if they don’t reciprocate. If we only do things for a reward nothing would ever get done.
If you know a friend is going through a tough time but you don’t know what to say to them let a picture speak a thousand words. The picture doesn’t have to have any text on it, but it could brighten their day. At the very least it will let them know you’re thinking of them and that counts for so much. Maybe it’s a quote by their favourite author or celebrity that you think will help?
Sharing a picture of a happy memory can also be beneficial to the person. Sharing a silly joke, a stupid picture, a cartoon strip…anything, if your intention is to make a person smile or laugh. If you get a negative response, don’t beat yourself up…at least you tried and that’s much better than doing nothing.
Sharing songs and music can make a huge difference. For example, if someone likes an obscure artist and you see a video of theirs share it with them - even if they may have already seen it…there’s a chance they haven’t. Same applies if you know a person likes a particular instrument and you find something that blows you away.
A song can also bring back memories so that can sometimes be a nice gesture too. If you find an inspirational song or one that says what you can’t personally put into words, that can make a difference too. Of course, you don’t want to send a song that will trigger a bad memory but again if that inadvertently happens you’ll know for next time and at least you tried.
So far, all the suggestions won’t have cost you a penny. But sometimes, if you have the money to do so, a small gift can be really touching. One of my singing students said to me, “I don’t normally do this kind of thing, but I was in a shop the other day and I saw this and knew I needed to get it for you.” It was such a thoughtful little gift and it really made my day.
Paying for the drink for the next person in the queue. Leaving a little note with your tip thanking the waiting staff personally. You see a book in a charity shop that you think someone will like. You see their favourite chocolate. There are so many little things you can buy for someone just to show you’re thinking of them, and they needn’t break the bank.
Time is a precious commodity. I find it mildly ironic that we all get given the exact same amount of time everyday and yet very few of us have time to spare for other people. It is true that most of us lead busy lives but if we can’t take five minutes out of our day to make sure someone is okay then something has gone very sadly wrong.
Giving your time to someone is a lovely gift but if you can take time to share an experience with someone too that’s all the better. By this I mean, you’re driving along the road with a friend on your way to somewhere when you notice the sunset. You pull over and both get out of the car to spend some time watching nature do its thing. Awesome!
I’ve saved the best for last. This is the ultimate small thing you can do for someone. Even if you’re not in a smiling mood, smiling at someone will make them smile at you. You’ve made them feel better and you’ve made yourself feel better too. I have only ever once not received a smile in return but because I gave mine with love I like to think it would have had a positive impact.
I will be honest, I struggle with my smile - I don’t like it. But others do and I’ve often been told it lights up a room. Giving a genuine smile which makes your eyes sparkle too is a wonderful, infectious, free gift that you can give to anyone. It can produce a ripple effect of lots of smiling people…what can be better than that!
Ultimately there are hundreds and thousands of ways you sprinkle a little happiness into someone's life. Just doing something because it's a nice thing to do rather than with the expectation of something in return is always the best way forward. If you do get something back that's a fabulous bonus.