How many acts of kindness do you carry out in a day? As you go about your busy life, you probably perform more random acts of kindness than you think. That’s what I realized when I read Linda Cohen’s 1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire, and Change Your Life.
Pay it Forward: Change the Toilet Paper
In a chapter cleverly titled “Change the Toilet Paper,” Linda discusses how the little things you do can make a big difference is someone else’s day.
“Keep your eyes open and be aware of what your neighbors, friends, and strangers are going through. It’s an opportunity to pay it forward in your daily life.” Throughout the book, Linda shares examples of the simplest acts of kindness that we can all do with minimal effort.
- Change a roll of toilet paper in the restroom. (Nobody likes to get stranded!)
- Tell a manager about an employee’s exemplary customer service. (You complain when things go wrong, don’t you?)
- Listen to people you meet with an open and giving heart. (Listening is a powerful gift.)
- Try spontaneous giving. (It’s really quite addictive.)
- The next time you’re at the gym, get someone a towel.
- Assist someone by carrying their groceries or packages.
- Let someone go ahead of you in the checkout line.
- Scoop your poop! (No one wants to step in it!)
- Call upon an elderly neighbor.
- Thank someone who impacted your life.
- Accommodate someone else’s schedule.
- Befriend a parent on a plane. (It could make all the difference in the world.)
Simple, right? It’s even likely that you perform these or similar kindnesses every day without even giving it a thought. It’s even possible that by doing them, you inspire others to pay it forward.
The Story Behind 1,000 Mitzvahs
When her father died, Linda’s busy life came to a screeching halt. She took a spiritual sabbatical to work through her grief and came out of it ready to embark upon a project: perform one thousand acts of kindness — mitzvahs — to honor her father’s memory. The book follows her journey from sorrow to inspiration through simple daily acts of kindness.
During my two and a half years of performing mitzvahs, I discovered that, aside from the moral virtue of doing kind acts, being kind is good for your health and happiness. The giver of kindness receives as much benefit or more than the recipient. I learned firsthand that it truly is better to give than to receive. From the beginning, most of my mitzvahs were simple and duplicable. I didn’t set out to save the world. I don’t even profess that any of my 1,000 small actions stand out as particularly important or life-changing. But I will assert that each of them made a small impact, and that cumulatively they have changed my life. [...]
My hope is that others will copy my idea. Ideas are meant to be shared, and it would give me no greater pleasure than to know that someone else has benefited from my story. This mitzvah project taught me the key to living well: Be in service and give of yourself.
I think Linda is right. Small acts of kindness can change your life — and someone else’s life, too. The key word here is “small.” Ever notice how contagious a smile can be?
To learn more about 1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire, and Change Your Life visit: 1000mitzvahs.org
Photo credit: istockphoto.com
Disclosure: At my request, a representative for the author provided me with a copy of the book for the purpose of writing this article. I made no agreement to write a positive piece nor do I have any financial connection to this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255.
In honor of my daughter’s 15th birthday, I would like to repost an essay she wrote last year about kindness. Keri is one of the kindest people I know, and I am so grateful she is my daughter.
“Kindness is like a spark from a match that creates a forest fire. The forest is a forest of anger, selfishness, and cruelty. Kindness can burn through all of those things.” -Keri Cuthriell
Kindness by Keri Cuthriell
One thing people today overlook far too much is the simple yet effective act of kindness. In this cold new world overtaken by selfishness and greed is a desperate need for those little acts of care. Just a helping hand or a quick show of compassion can turn another person’s day completely around.
Sometimes even a friendly smile can save a life. People often forget others and become very engrossed in their own problems. This leads to a negative downward spiral and a chain reaction of selfishness. A generation of selfish people is the last thing we need today. Imagine if everybody was willing to be kind and compassionate to each other. If it was not forced, but a habit. This would change the world.
Everyone has experienced difficult times at one time or another when things were not going well and needed an act of kindness to brighten up their day. If it wasn’t for that one person, that one act of kindness, they might not have the life they have today. Remember how effective just the smallest act of kindness can be. Know that you can do this for others. In the long run, you may not be just helping one person but multiple people. Kindness is like the spark from a match that creates a forest fire. The forest is a forest of anger, selfishness, and cruelty. Kindness can burn through all of those things.
It’s very important for people to remember that anger is powerful. So is selfishness along with cruelty. However, kindness overpowers all. You may think your kindness makes a difference for other people only, but it doesn’t. What comes around goes around, and your act will be returned. Your most important reward is knowing how much you just helped someone in need. You feel satisfaction knowing that you might have saved someone’s day, week, or even life. What you have really been given is the most precious gift you can receive, the gift of kindness. Everyone is capable of being kind. Everyone can help. The real question is, why don’t we? This should not be a question. Kindness should come automatically. It should be common rather than a rarity. We can make this happen and do something kind today.
“No matter how small, an act of kindness never goes unnoticed.”
Keri, I love who you are. You make the world a better place. Happy Birthday!
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