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(this post is dedicated to my Twitter friend @paulvharris to whom I committed to performing some random act of kindness today)

ever get the brilliant idea you’re going to randomly do something kind for someone — anyone really — and then you can’t find a single opportunity to do anything? it’s more than a little discouraging, kinda the whole “a watched pot never boils” thing. BUT, kindness doesn’t always have to be an obvious act of service; sometimes it’s as simple as a smile and a kind word. that I did do today: I had to go to Walmart (an errand I will generally do almost anything short of root canal to avoid), and as I walked in I noticed one of the greeters, an older gentleman, pulling carts out of the long trains in the bay and putting them out where shoppers could get to them easily. I truly appreciated this simple gesture that relieved me from the usual obligatory wrestling match w/the nearest cart train, so I did the obvious thing: I said “thank you!” w/a smile. he seemed surprised, stopped, then smiled back and said “you’re welcome!”

it’s never possible to know how one simple little act can affect someone.

several years ago I was at church one Sunday when I felt impressed to go over and give one of the other ladies there a hug — she wasn’t someone I knew especially well myself, altho’ she was a friend of our family. ignoring the nagging little voice in my head that was trying to convince me that she might think I’m weird, I walked over to C, smiled and said, “you look like you could use a hug,” gave her a big squeezy hug, then simply walked back over to where I’d been sitting. THREE YEARS LATER she still mentioned that hug in conversation w/my parents; I could never have guessed that following that inspiration that day would make such an impression on this woman.

next time you get the urge to perform a random act of kindness, if you find yourself lacking in any opportunities for service, try just doing something really basic: smile at someone, say “thank you” and mean it, hug someone, just be polite to people you talk to. you might be surprised at (or then again, you may never know) how big an impression such “little” things can make. 🙂