This was an especially nice idea – I’m thinking of it as “stealth kindness.” I think that sometimes we get a little wrapped up in wanting to be “caught” being nice – you see it in some charity pictures (mission trips, soup kitchens, and so on) where people pose with the folks they’re helping out. Take a good, hard look at those pictures – often the people being helped look decidedly uncomfortable at being used as (essentially) props in someone else’s “look what I did!” photo shoot.
While I really don’t think those photos come from a place of anything other than good intentions, I urge you to resist that.* Doing good shouldn’t be happening in order to get kudos or accolades (yeah, those are nice, no doubt about it), I think it’s important to allow people dignity – it’s hard to ask for help, maybe especially so at the holidays – so I really liked some of the suggestions I had today about helping very, very anonymously. Give these suggestions a try – and think of yourself as a stealthy holiday elf, quietly bringing good cheer to people you’ll never even see.
- Leave sticky notes with encouraging thoughts for other people to find – maybe a bathroom mirror or (it’s exam time!) on a library study table.
- Tape some change to a vending machine for someone to use
- Drop books off at a Little Free Library
- Drop old (but still fairly recent) magazines off at a hospital or somewhere else where people do a lot of waiting
- Leave some extra quarters at the laundromat
- Tie a scarf to a tree with a note letting passersby know that they should take it if they’re cold
In other news, I’m continuing with those short morning meditations, I’m drinking more (much more!) water, my food bank box now has a jar of applesauce and I treated myself to another “slow flow” yoga class. That really feels like a treat, too – it’s a small class led by a supremely kind and skilled instructor – and at this point of the semester (I’ve hit the “involuntary eye twitch” stage of grading!), kindness to self as well as others rules. I took a few minutes off from grading to finish a French lesson (conjugation – ugh!) and arrange the Nativity set.
Be kind. And don’t be afraid to do it quietly.
*Instead, think about taking the pictures just of the folks you’re helping or just of you after you’ve done the Very Nice Thing. Then again, not every darn thing in our lives has to be documented, no matter what social media hashtags seem to be designed to make you think.