Planning acts of kindness

“Random acts of kindness.”

The idea is that when we perform random acts of good, we bring happiness to the recipient. And, who could deny the good feeling we get when we help someone, offer an encouraging word, or pay a genuine compliment?

istock_000004633733xsmallLoosely defined, a random act of kindness is a selfless act to assist or cheer up an individual for no reason other than to make him or her smile or be happier. Behind this, in part, is the hope that the surprised individual will practice a random act, too–“paying it forward” as the book and movie tell us.

The theory is good.

But I’d like to propose that while practicing random acts of kindness is good, planning them for those we know is even better. After all, we know our circle of friends and their needs. What greater gift could we give than an act of kindness meant just for them?

Doing good is one of the ways we find our own happiness and satisfaction. Such actions are one of the noblest ways to grow increasingly happy.

Some people may believe that random kindness allows a certain anonymity and that they can be more secretive with their good deeds. Some may believe that if they get “credit” for an act, it’s less impactful. Some believe that you can never be truly altruistic because performing the act brings personal pleasure.

But, does any of that really matter?

All those arguments are about us. Isn’t it really about them and helping them be successful? And, helping others be successful can take many forms. Kindness is one of them.

Doing good for others does not deplete our stock of it and leave us half full. Rather, it fills us up with even more. Funny how that works.

So, perform acts of kindness randomly, if you like. It’s good. But planned can be even better.

Question: Who do you know, right now, who could benefit from one planned act of kindness on your part? How about just an encouraging word? A thank you? Maybe just a call. Go ahead. Pick up the phone.

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Six points is just about everything

Patrick is your usual high school senior. He studies. He plays basketball. He’s a favored son of parents, Pat and Perry.

And he has Downs syndrome.

patrick11That small fact doesn’t stop Patrick from running drills with the team throughout the year or playing with them during summer practices. And even though he’s never played in a real game, when you hear his teammates talk, you can feel the respect they have for Patrick, his toughness and his dedication to the team.

But, senior night, as it’s known, would put Patrick in a special place made possible by his friend and team standout, Sam Thompson. It was Sam who gave up his starting position so that Patrick could play in his only actual game, the last his high school would play that year.

“If I can help him have a special experience tonight, I’ll do whatever it takes,” Sam said, unconcerned that he was giving up his final starting role on the team.

And even though the center of attention that night would be Patrick, the decision of his coach and the support of his fellow players would enable this young man’s dream to become real.

The game began. Patrick missed his first shot, but a minute or so later made a clean shot from 20 feet out. Swish. Three points.

Near the end of the fourth quarter, fans started chanting Patrick’s name, demanding that he get another chance to play. With just a few minutes left in the game, Patrick took his place on the court. And just as the buzzer sounded, Patrick landed another three pointer. Swish.

Final score: Greely High School: 61 — Gray New Glouster: 43.

Players surrounded the new star, lifted him in the air and carried him off the court as the school’s new hero. But to 18-year-old Patrick, the real heroes were likely his team members who gave up just a little to give him so much.