Random Acts of Kindness

Jan Fowler

is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”; founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court. www.janfowler.com. Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.


“Random Acts of Kindness”

by Jan Fowler

I always enjoy remembering a very special moment several decades ago while visiting my son Randy in Menlo Park near San Francisco. On this particular morning, it was warm and sunny and promised to be a fun day, so Randy put the top down on his car just before driving us through the toll booth at the Golden Gate Bridge.

The next thing I remember was the look of impish delight on Randy’s face as he turned toward me, smiled broadly, and laughed out loud, “Hey, Mom, bet you’ll never guess what I just did! I paid the toll charge for me as well as for the car behind me.”

Naturally, I was extremely touched by Randy’s exceptional kindness to total strangers but didn’t quite understand the full scope until he explained further. “Think of it, Mom. Doing something like that could make the difference in a person’s day, especially if they got off to a bad start.”

It was then that Randy introduced me to the expression, “Random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty,” which I had never heard of before, but which was apparently already trending in northern California.

The credit for this catchy phrase is given to Anne Herbert, who wrote “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a placemat in 1982 in Sausalito, California–not too far from where Randy lived–in an effort to encourage a global campaign to share and spread unexpected acts of kindness.

We all know and understand how kind acts can uplift anyone’s spirits, not to mention the unexpected glow which is generally enjoyed by the giver as well. “A nice compliment from a total stranger can do wonders to boost attitude,” Randy explained.

There are many examples of ways in which we can pass kindness onto others in ways which would benefit them greatly.

Among my favorites is the following. “I was grocery shopping with my three-year-old and he really wanted some gummy treats.  I explained to my son that we couldn’t afford it because Daddy lost his job.  A man came up and said, “You dropped this” and handed me a $50 bill. (Tiana Smith, Reader’s Digest, February 2020.)

Other examples might be to hand a stranger a box containing a fresh fruit pie, offering to assist someone who is struggling to load groceries into their car, helping another person gather up important papers which may have been scattered in all directions by an unexpected gust of wind.

Kindness could also include putting coins in an expired parking meter, yielding the right of way to another motorist, or allowing someone to cut in front of you in line.

Imagine the warm glow which I recently felt when I arrived at the cashier’s window of a local MacDonalds drive-through where the cashier said that the woman before me had already paid for my meal as thanks for my having waved her to go ahead of me.

Have you noticed that it has become a campaign to share kindness, even in the Kindergarten classroom?  How would I know that – you may wonder?  I know because my own granddaughter, Bella, received the “Kind Award” four years ago when she was in Kindergarten because of her unselfish spirit of helpfulness and sweet kindness to her classmates and others. I had never heard of the “Kind Award” until then.

We each hold the power to lift up someone’s spirits and brighten their day with a selfless act of beauty or kindness, don’t we?  In Fact, Lloyd Brock, host of “Kindness Matters” KCAA radio show and Jim James, co-host, recently named the late Kobe Bryant, as an example of someone whose kindness to others was part of his legacy.

Random acts of kindness could be a mood elevator for so many people. Consider the following possibilities:

  • Pay it backward—buy coffee for the person in line behind you.
  • Leave quarters and unused coupons at the laundromat.
  • Leave a kind server the best tip you can afford.
  • And when you hear a discouraging voice in your head, say something positive to yourself because you deserve some kindness too!

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