In the ancient religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, the term “karma” refers to the sum of actions in a person’s past and present existences; actions that determine fate. In western culture, karma follows a simpler cause and effect relationship; do something benevolent (with genuine intentions), and the universe will return those good graces. Do something bad (with wicked intentions) and the universe will give you a taste of your own medicine.
However, regardless of superstitions, maintaining good karma isn’t the only reason we should act kindly towards others. It is important for us to exercise the boundaries of our hearts and see firsthand the effect good deeds have on other people, as well as ourselves.
To experiment with this, I dedicated a week to endless acts of kindness for friends, strangers and myself.
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
The greatest acts of kindness are the ones we do for our friends. Friends are always there for us when we need them and never fail to put a smile on our faces regardless of what we do. With that being said, I decided to repay my own friends for all of their love and support throughout the years. For a few friends in particular, I typed up a quick, heartfelt text message and sent it to them before they woke up. This was one of the few responses I received:
It was heartwarming to know that a quick message could turn someone’s entire day around, especially because it took virtually no effort on my part. Random acts of kindness can be that simple.
In addition to sending out loving texts, I went off campus with one friend for a long overdue lunch “date” and gave her a mixtape CD I made for her the night before. It was accompanied by a tracklist, detailing the reasons for choosing the songs I did — some reasons dating back to our middle school years together. Although showing our friends kindness can be effortless, sometimes it pays to be thorough and thoughtful. Needless to say, my friend was over the moon with her personalized CD and immediately played it in her car. Hopefully, she will enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it.
“Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
In addition to giving back to our friends and family, it’s important to give back to everyday strangers. Goodwill is the easiest outlet for this. It provides a place for the community to donate their old knickknacks and clothing to those on a tighter budget. In my family, donating to Goodwill on a yearly basis is somewhat of a tradition. I recently went through my closet and compiled a few shirts and pants I never found myself wearing. Donating these articles of clothing to the GCF store was simple and I left feeling better than I had when I arrived.
Showing kindness to strangers doesn’t always mean donating to charitable foundations. It could mean doing something as simple as letting someone into your lane on the drive home from school, or stopping to let cars out of their neighborhood in the hustle and bustle of traffic. Paying tribute to those who provide services is easy, too, like leaving a tip for the competent barista who always makes mornings easier. Keep an eye out for the little opportunities; they tend to have the biggest impact.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” — When considering random acts of kindness, and kindness in general, it is common to forget that it is something we owe ourselves as much as anyone else. If we can’t treat ourselves once in awhile, how can we be selfless enough to treat others?
What we decide to do for ourselves is completely dependent upon what makes us the happiest. For some, they find happiness in taking a break from homework in order to spend time with friends or jog a mile around the neighborhood. For others, swinging by Dunkin’ Donuts one morning to pick up coffee is enough to brighten the rest of their week. Taking a much needed nap, as simple as it sounds, was how I treated myself.
Whether it’s something you put a lot of effort into, or something done as a casual gesture, random acts of kindness are sure to go a long way.