The Art of Being Kind: 31 Acts of Deliberate Kindness

At the end of July I committed to making the entire month of August a month of deliberate kindness.

Every single day I made a conscious decision to do something for someone else.

The amazing thing about doing anything day in and day out is that it becomes a habit.

I found myself smiling at everyone, opening doors even with a little one in my arms, and speaking with kindness to everyone I encountered.

The little things sometimes have the most powerful influence and I’m proud to have recharged my love and passion for helping others.

My dear friend Amanda also participated in this challenge with me and she blogged about her experience as well.

I encourage you to read about her journey as she taught her two daughters the power of doing good and helping others.

(You can read it here).

I loved Amanda’s post because she showed that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to go out of your way for others.

She is a beautiful soul and it makes me so happy to see her children growing up to be loving, selfless individuals just like their mother.

…………………

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DAY 1:

I left an anonymous card with an encouraging message and gift card inside for our neighbors two doors down.

DAY 2:

We bought buckets and shovels in the dollar section of Target and passed them out to kids at the beach.

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My original plan was to leave them like the photo above but as we were playing in the water I began to notice kids around who looked bored and so I passed them out.

It was so wonderful seeing their faces light up and to watch them build sand castles with their new toys.

DAY 3:

We paid for the guy behind us in the Starbucks Drive-Thru line.

DAY 4:

I made a donation for art supplies to The Sick Kids Foundation.

I really wish we had something like this here in the US, it is such a brilliant concept.

DAY 5:

At one of the parks Declan and I frequent we always see a group of mentally handicapped men and women with helpers.

They walk around the benches to get some exercise in a few times a week.

Since it’s been so hot recently, I decided to buy them some water bottles so that they could stay hydrated.

DAY 6:

I left dollar bills in some sympathy cards at Walgreens.

I figured that someone nice enough to go out of their way to get someone a card like that deserved to have their day brightened too.

DAY 7:

I frequent Target like most women so I found myself there in the dollar section once again.

This time I bought a coloring book and box of crayons.

When I paid for them I asked the cashier to then give them to the next child she came into contact with at her register.

She was very kind until I asked her to do this.

Once I had included her in my good deed she seemed annoyed and coldly said,

“Uhhhh, okay?”

And rolled her eyes.

I thought that was really interesting and also sad.

DAY 8:

You’ll see these pop up now and again.

Derek and I tag teamed on a couple days.

This day, he went and pushed all of the shopping carts into their proper place while I held Declan.

DAY 9:

We went for appetizers at T.G.I. Friday’s and left our waiter a large tip.

DAY 10:

I saw an old friend post a Facebook status about going through a rough time so I decided to reach out to her and send her a $25 Fandango gift card through Facebook to help brighten her day.

DAY 11:

I left flowers on a random car in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.

DAY 12:

We have been sponsoring a young girl named Mariella since the first time I did this challenge in 2012 but they always need more help at World Vision.

So I made an additional donation to be put towards wherever it was most needed.

DAY 13:

I went and got a massage and we gave the employees a box of cookies as a thank you for pampering people all day long.

I tried to take a picture but was in a hurry and it came out all blurred.

DAY 14:

We left mechanical pencils, pens, and a holder for the kids across the street from us who had just started school.

DAY 15:

I met my Beachbody coach for the very first time on this day at the Idea World Convention and she had very briefly mentioned that it was also going to be her birthday.

So I decided to surprise her with a cake pop from Starbucks.

DAY 16:

We made a $100 donation to ALS and also both participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

DAY 17:

I wrote out encouraging words on Post-Its and Derek spread them throughout the grocery store for people to stumble upon.

DAY 18:

A neighboring family recently adopted a sweet dog with a hip problem.

I love watching them play with her and wanted to do something kind for them so I left them a box of treats to give to her.

DAY 19:

There is this older man who periodically parks his truck on a busy street by my house and sits there for hours on end.

He’s got wooden crosses on the front and back of his vehicle and he just hangs out there, sharing his message with everyone who passes by.

I saw him on my way to Target (shocker) and decided I wanted to do something nice.

So I bought a thank you card, bottle of water, and bag of chocolate chip cookies.

I wrote in the card and made my way back to the spot only to find him gone.

Turns out God had someone else in mind for me that day.

So instead I gave the cookies and water to our mail person.

The funny thing is, it wasn’t even our same mail person that day.

It’s always a woman but on this particular day it was a man.

Seeing that my note clearly said woman, he rang the doorbell and explained to me that she had the day off.

I told him the only reason I put woman was because I had seen her before and to please take it and he was so incredibly appreciative.

He thanked me, welcomed me to the neighborhood as he knew we just moved last year, and walked away with the biggest smile.

DAY 20:

Declan woke me up super early so I decided to go on a coffee run.

I was making my way down the usual road when I saw the man in his truck again!

Determined not to miss him this time and still having the card I had written him in my passenger seat, I grabbed a cookie for him at Starbucks and hurried back.

When I walked up to his truck with Declan in arms I saw him sitting there reading his bible.

I got his attention and he rolled down his window.

I handed him the card and cookie and he looked at me as though nobody had ever stopped for him before.

We chatted for a few moments until Declan got fussy and then I left.

DAY 21:

I surprised Derek’s office donuts.

It was actually really neat because the woman and the donut shop showed me a random act of kindness as well by giving me three extra donuts for free!

DAY 22:

I made a donation to Whittier First Day Homeless Care.

DAY 23:

ADT salesmen came to our door and it just so happens we were in the market for a security system.

It was about 3:30 pm and they had been out in the field all day.

We had just finished up our fantasy football draft and had a bunch of left over food so we offered it to the ADT men.

They politely declined at first but quickly changed their minds.

Next thing we knew we were in our kitchen laughing and telling stories with them as they chomped on chicken soft tacos.

It was really cool to be able to do something like that, especially for door-to-door salesmen who are used to people being rude to them.

DAY 24:

We still had so much food leftover so I made a care pack of it and we drove around trying to find a homeless person to bless with it.

We drove for over an hour but never saw anyone which was bizarre because we see people daily.

So instead we bought a scratcher at the gas station and taped it to the pump for someone to find and enjoy.

DAY 25:

Derek has an employee who has been going through a rough time recently and told him he only eats one meal a day.

So Derek took that care pack of food I made the day before and brought it to this man at work.

DAY 26:

As I was leaving the grocery store I saw a woman and her young daughter sitting outside in the shade.

I had seen her there once before with her sign and Derek had given her money previously.

But I didn’t have any cash on me so instead I put my groceries in the car and walked over to her.

I offered to bring her and her daughter inside with me and let them pick out something to eat for dinner but she told me she didn’t speak English and unfortunately, I don’t speak Spanish either.

But I worked through the language barrier enough to explain to her where I was going and to make sure chicken would be okay.

I went back into the store and bought her a whole rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, cornbread, and water.

DAY 27:

I had seen a homeless man in the morning the previous day so I decided to go back and see if he was still there.

I went to Walmart to make a kit up for him.

For $35 I got him a towel, washcloth, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush/holder, tissue, bandaids, wet wipes, body wash, q-tips, hand sanitizer, Pringles, fruit bars, peanut butter, jelly, a loaf of bread, a gallon jug of water, and utensils.

When I approached him he was asleep so I put it all next to him and left.

But as I caught a glimpse of his face I noticed a big smile as he slept on the ground with so little to his name and it filled my heart with so much humility.

The sleeping man blessed me that day too.

DAY 28:

A friend had posted on Facebook that her son was doing a fundraiser  and really wanted to reach his goal so I decided to visit the website and support him by purchasing something.

I took the opportunity to make these items a little gift for my mom too as a congrats for starting her new job.

DAY 29:

I sent a “just cause” gift anonymously (I think!)

That was the plan, but it may have included my info anyway so we shall see.

DAY 30:

I made a plegde to Pay It Forward and I started by signing five other petitions on Causes.com.

DAY 31:

We left a $5 bill on our walk for someone else to discover.

We tried to take a picture but the memory on Derek’s phone was full and I accidentally left mine in the house.

…………………………….

I hope you feel inspired to go out there and do good.

Kindness is contagious and can not only make a big impact in other people’s lives, but in your own.

The heart is a muscle.

So put in the work and watch it grow.

30 Acts in 30 Days

I’d like to point you back to this post where I stated I would be doing “30 Acts of Deliberate Kindness” for the month of September.

When I started this journey, I had no idea what to expect.

I had made a point that I wanted to carefully plan all of my acts, but as the days passed I started to notice that sometimes opportunities to encourage others come up sporadically.

And truthfully, there is something very wonderful and genuine about seeing something/someone and instantly reacting with kindness.

Though my 30 days have ended, I feel like a spark was lit within me.

I fully intend to continue to be deliberately kind, daily.

So without further ado, here is how I spent my September!

September 1:

I returned a shopping cart for an elderly woman in the Michael’s parking lot.

The old lady unpacked her cart and started looking around for the nearest spot to put the cart. I could see from her movements that she had trouble walking and so I walked up to her and told her I would take it. She thanked me with a big smile.

September 2:

We put change in baggies and taped them to a vending machine and also put one in a grocery store in the drink aisle.

September 3:

I baked cookies for my neighbor.

This ended up being such an incredible thing. The entire time I was baking I had in mind that I was going to give the cookies to a family that lived across the street. When I finished baking, Derek and I walked outside to take them the cookies and I noticed our 80 year old next door neighbor was outside watering her grass. I said to Derek, “I guess we are supposed to give her the cookies instead” and so we walked over to her and and I said, “Hi Judy! We baked you some cookies.”

She said, “Oh my. You couldn’t have come at a better time” and then broke down crying.

She went on to tell us that her daughter was in the hospital and was going to be undergoing a serious double surgery the following day.  We listened to her story, hugged her, and told her we would be praying for her and her daughter. After she thanked us again we left and tears fell from my eyes.

It was 100% God working in that moment, telling us to give the cookies to her and I am so thankful we listened.

September 4:

I left change at Fresh and Easy in the “change dispenser” with a note.

When I walked away the girl who was working called to me saying, “You left your change!” When I told her I left it on purpose she looked at me like I was crazy and was in complete shock.

Follow up:

I went back to this Fresh and Easy a week later and that same girl was working. She walked up to me and said, “you’re the girl that left the $10, right?”  I said yes and she said, “the person who received it said thank you so much. They even started crying when they saw it.”  Incredible, right? Whether they cried because they really needed the money or just because they needed the kindness, I was overwhelmed hearing about how this small gesture meant so much to this stranger.

September 5:

I bought a $5 gift card at Starbucks and asked the cashier to use it on the next customer she had.

I was able to see the reaction on the man’s face as I waited for my coffee which was awesome. He looked down at the gift card with a big smile and then scanned the room as if to see who had left it for him.

September 6: 

I had a free pastry on my Panera Bread rewards card, and when my cashier told me about it I asked her what her favorite dessert was and used the credit to get her the dessert of her choice.

She was pretty confused. Laughed and said, “You don’t want it?” This was my first encounter where I realized that people are so unused to acts of kindness from strangers that it can sometimes make them uncomfortable.

September 7:

 I went to In-N-Out and paid for the car behind me’s food.

This was one of my favorites because I prayed about it on the way and thought to myself, “but what if the car behind me ends up being a full family!” I decided to trust God and went for it. Upon first glance the red car behind me only had one person in it, so I was set. Then I noticed a little kid in the front seat.

Two people? That’s fine! Then I saw two more kids in the back. It looked like the lady was their grandmother. Since I had already made up my mind that I was doing it no matter what I told the cashier at the window that I would like to pay for the car behind me as well.

She immediately said, “Thank you so much for doing that. I don’t see people do this often, but when I do I love it, I think it’s so great”.

Turned out the bill for all four of them was only $8. I paid and left, and as I was on the way back to work I noticed their car speeding up behind me.

They pulled up next to me with all of their windows rolled down, and they all smiled, waved, and yelled thank you. It was such a sweet moment.

September 8: 

We went to Universal Studios and had lunch on City Walk. I had our server pick out the best dessert on the menu and asked him to bill me for it and give it to a couple sitting across from us once they finished their meal.

September 9: 

I left money on a random car’s windshield.

September 10:

I bought a $25 grocery gift card and gave it to a girl in Fresh and Easy.

I walked up to her and said, “Hi, I know this is random but I wanted to give this to you.” She looked reluctant and said “thank you. For no reason?”

Just like the girl at Panera, she seemed pretty surprised and confused by this gesture. I caught a glimpse of her total when I was walking up and it was $23, so I felt really happy to be able to pay for her groceries that day.

September 11: 

Dropped off a bag of Life Savers and a note to the local fire department in honor/remembrance of September 11, 2001

September 12:

Sent an email to each child that had not received anything yet this year (7 total) on this incredible website Post Pals.

It is a UK based charity where you can send an email, a letter, or a present to any of the sick children they have listed. It updates you on their conditions, including if/when they pass and it even gives you the option to send things to their siblings. If you need a good cry check the website out. It is an extraordinary and something I would love to implement here in the states.

September 13:

 I bought a bag of Joe for a troop overseas at  Cup of Joe for a Joe.

The whole concept is to bring a piece of home to our troops with something as simple as a cup of coffee. I even received an email back from an SSG thanking me for the coffee and support. Plus, they sent me a bracelet which brought a smile to my face!

September 14: 

Made a commitment to be a monthly sponsor of a child named Mariela from Bolivia through World Vision.

I remember in high school I did this, but since my only source of income was my weekly allowance aka lunch money, it didn’t last long. Sponsoring a child is the same price as a weeks worth of coffee for me, which I will gladly give up once a month!

September 15: 

This was a day when I realized that not all acts of kindness need to be so grand. I drove everywhere we went so that Derek could relax, opened the door for everyone behind me, and smiled at everyone I saw.

September 16:

Sent my friends who are about to have a baby a few gifts from their Babies-R-Us registry.

They have not advertised their registry to anyone but when we did a search for them on the website I found them. Anyone who reads my blog consistently can imagine that being on a baby website was difficult. At one point Derek even said to me, “I don’t know how you are even looking at that stuff.” I spent the whole day trying to think of what to do and it was already the evening when it came to me, and I knew God was telling me that it was something I needed to do. Our friends whom we sent the gifts to are phenomenal people and have been wonderful support systems for myself and Derek, making it all the more important to me to show them our love. They received it two days later and my friend sent me a text letting me know that they received it and she cried. It was a wonderful feeling knowing that I could bring some joy to them.

September 17: 

I posted “Words of Encouragement” signs around town.

Follow Up:

I happened to go by one of them a few days later and it was still there in tact with only two tabs left. Pretty cool to think that God’s words may have really helped to comfort someone on that day.

September 18:

 Derek and I went to Olive Garden for dinner and tipped our server a 70% tip on the bill.

September 19:

Left dollar bills in miscellaneous spots in the grocery store for people to find.

I emphasized spots where kids tend to be such as the candy aisle and Halloween decorations.

September 20: 

Yes, our mailbox is dirty.

Left a treat for our USPS delivery driver. Don’t worry, I put it in the mailbox before I left!

Follow Up:  

Derek and I both forgot to check the mail that day, but when I checked it the following morning I found this note inside.

It’s been pretty incredible to see how a little gesture can really make a persons day.

September 21:

 Bought drinks for my co-workers as they had to unload a huge truck.

September 22: 

Let two guys cut in line with us at check-in because they were running late for their flight at the airport.

September 23: 

We helped a couple with purchasing tickets/using the Bart for the first time.

September 24: 

Since we were in San Fran for the weekend, we spent a lot of time on the BART and we had about $8 left on our tickets so we gave them to a woman and her small child so they could ride for free.

September 25: 

I went to my local Vons and bought a $25 movie theater gift card. When the cashier handed it to me I handed it back to her and told her I bought it for her. She said, “for me? Why?” and I told her just because. Oddly enough, the manager was the one bagging my groceries at that moment and when she witnessed this she said,

“Oh cool. That is so nice. She is such a hard worker, she really deserves it.”

To which I said, “Well then it sounds like it when to the right person.”

The manager said, “Definitely. Wow, what a blessing.”

The cashier thanked me and I left.

September 26: 

Supported a school fundraiser at my local grocery store.

September 27: 

Left some flowers and a note on a random car in the parking lot. I purposely chose the most beat up car in the parking lot and as I was leaving a lady saw me do it and I watched her walk over to the flowers, read the note, and call her friend over to look at it too. Pretty funny.

September 28: 

Good old Friday. My best friend and I had a failed attempt at kindness this day. We used to walk the same route every Mon, Wed, Fri [until we got gym memberships a few weeks ago] and we would always see this same man on Fridays, collecting bottles and cans at a specific dumpster. So we both collected our bottles and cans for weeks, saving them up so that we could give them to this guy and Friday was finally the day we would give them to him.  We went to the gym and drove over there, but he was nowhere to be found. I think we miscalculated when he gets there. It was a let down, but we are going to do it this Friday instead :)

September 29: 

We gave a giant slice of New York pizza to a homeless man on the street. It was my first visit to New York and I had heard stories about some of the homeless being less than grateful for anything other than money, but the man whom we gave it to was incredibly kind and thankful for the gesture.

September 30:

Paid for a man’s dessert. We went to the famous Carnegie Deli in NYC and were seating cafeteria style, next to a man who was all by himself. He had just finished his meal and ordered a dessert. I went to our waiter and asked him to put the man’s dessert on our tab instead. We ended up chatting with him throughout our entire meal and when he got the bill and the waiter explained we had covered his dessert he was surprised and grateful. It was neat to not only show him an act of kindness like that, but also spend our dinner chatting with him. It was obvious that he had not had many conversations with others recently.

Here’s to Kindness!