(Pakastani cobbler photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons: babasteve/flicker)
When I was a kid, one of my favourite stories was The Cobbler and His Elves by The Brothers Grimm. It’s about a poor cobbler who, while earnest, grateful and hard working, can’t get ahead in his business until one night a posse of clever Elves sneak in and do the cobbling for him making beautiful, flawless shoes during the night. This tale of unsolicited, secret help must have really inspired my child-mind because I’ve had a lifelong affinity for doing sneaky good deeds. Weeding a neighbour’s flower patch, shoveling someone else’s sidewalk.
The modern term for this is “Random Act of Kindness” ; unsolicited, anonymous giving. As corny (or difficult) as it sounds, giving spontaneous gifts and gestures to friends and family is great but giving these gifts to strangers is even better. These acts of kindness help us open up to our REAL giving nature instead of ego inspired giving to get something from someone, or make us popular. Removing motives, reasons, reactions from recipients and expectation of “pay-back” helps us practise real giving. There isn’t a situation or problem in your life that couldn’t be helped by GIVING a little.
A friend told me about a website (daretobeanangel.com) which has a task list with lots of great ideas about “random acts of kindness” that are easy and doable.
My old standbys are:
- *Connect with a stranger: Be the empathetic person who asks the crabby pharmacist how their day is going or tell a tired check out clerk that you really like her earrings. If that’s too much for you, make eye contact and smile. If you’re feeling inspired, you can say more than “You too” to the obligatory “Have a nice day.” Tell a coworker why they’re good at their job. Thank someone for the work they do for you.
- *clever donations: Think beyond blankets and canned foods for the less-fortunate. Homeless shelters often need men’s shaving kits, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, socks, thermal underwear, laundry soap. Your used cell phone and even eye-glasses could be donated. Nursing homes might enjoy a donation of your old sheet music, books or board games.
- *special notes/cash: A great way to spread the energy of abundance (and attract it to you) is to stash a few bills (or a kind note) in unexpected places. I use little post it notes or tape and stick cash or notes in places where people are likely to find them. Think what would make your day if YOU were to find it? Good stash places might be the pages of phone directories at pay-phones, free-newspapers, public restrooms (taped to a paper towel) – stashed into a dispenser of dog-bags, under a pack of diapers, or on a park bench. If you’re at work, the coffee machine, fridge or break-room bulletin board. This works at home too. Is your spouse filling out taxes? Dealing with insurance? A little sticky that says, “You’re so good!” can make just about anyone smile.
- *Wave at someone!
Do you have ideas? – I always like to add to my YOUR BRILLIANCE page. OK, good luck with cobbling those shoes, fellow Elves!