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Creating a Life of Kindness by Dr. Wendy Rae D.D.

Mark Twain nailed the concept of kindness in one sentence: Kindness is the only language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

20 years ago, sifting through a small town library in northwest Iowa, I stumbled upon a book of quotes. At the time I was editor of the weekly newspaper and was always looking for inspiration to pass along to the community. Little did I know that this small book of quotes was going to impact me two full decades later.

In one of the sections of the quote book was a particular area that I found myself reading repeatedly. It was the section on kindness. At that time, I was going through some huge personal issues and I was struggling with how to remain open to possibility, keep my motivation high, and how to be a positive influence for my 6 old daughter.

Three quotes from that book have stayed with me.

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” Steve Maraboli

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.” Kahlil Gibran

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

Wendy Mass

One particularly cold January day, I decided to be daring. It was -5 degrees and sunny. I had taken off from work early so I could be home when my daughter came home from school. Somewhere on the drive home, I decided I was going to pick her up from school early and we’d spend the afternoon together.

I fibbed to her teacher that she had a doctor’s appointment and we ran to the warm car from the school, racing to see who would get to their car door first. I told her if she won she could decide what we were going to do with our free afternoon. She chose ice cream, because who wouldn’t want ice cream when it’s -5 degrees outside?

We laughed all the way to the neighboring town 13 miles away that had the only ice cream shop in our rural area and said it was going to be a day we’d laugh about forever. Little did we know, it truly was. While sitting together, laughing, and enjoying our sundaes, I asked her if she’d like to go on an adventure with me for the day. I didn’t even know what lay ahead of us that bone chilling day. I just knew I needed to smile and create a day of fun for us.

Across the parking lot, in front of the grocery store, I saw an elderly woman had fallen on the ice and had groceries scattered across the snow packed parking lot. My daughter and I walked over and helped her gather her things and get her safely to her car. We were smiling and laughing, telling the woman about our ice cream adventure and the woman’s facial expression changed dramatically from being embarrassed to being light and joyful, laughing with us at our ridiculous outing.

My daughter turned to me after the woman had left and said, “Mommy that was fun. Can we do that, again?”

We spent the day holding doors open for people, smiling at everyone we crossed paths with, helping load groceries, singing silly songs, complimenting everyone who smiled back at us, and spreading laughter and kindness for 3 hours.

That day turned into a contest between the two of us. Who could make the most people smile, laugh, or hug you each day? This tradition stuck and has been passed on to friends, other family members, my other kids, and now my grandson.

Creating a life of kindness doesn’t require money or nice clothes. Kindness doesn’t even require that you leave your home. You can be kind online, creating an atmosphere of warmth and genuine kindness by greeting people with a smile and an ear.

Kindness has a tendency to grow and catch on because it feels good to be kind in a world where we are all struggling with something. Being the cause of a stranger’s smile for the day is addicting. Warning: showing acts of kindness may feel like an addiction.

Here are some great ideas to help you create more kindness in your life:

Leave money on a vending machine for someone
Bake cookies for the elderly 
Serve at a homeless shelter 
Do a 5k for a good cause 
Help at a veterinarian office 
Pick up litter on the beach 
Let someone go in front of you in line 
Give a stranger a compliment 
Make dinner for a family in need 
Insert coins into someone’s parking meter 
Buy flowers to hand out on the street 
Leave letters of encouragement on people’s cars 
Buy a movie ticket for the person behind you 
Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant 
Write letters to soldiers 
Donate Christmas gifts to an orphanage 
Participate in a fundraiser
Hold open the doors for people 
Thank a teacher with a gift 
Help a senior with their groceries 
Shovel a neighbor’s driveway when it snows 
Walk a neighbor’s dog 
Babysit for free 
Plant a tree 
Do a favor without asking for anything in return 
Take someone new in your neighborhood on a tour of the city 
Buy an ice cream cone for a child 
Learn to say hello in a different language to different people 
Prepare a meal for your family 
Pay for a stranger’s library fees 
Send cards to someone in the phone book 
Spend a day at a homeless shelter 
Give drinks out to people on a hot day 
Send a letter to a good friend instead of a text 
Bring in donuts for your co-workers 
Help a child or older person cross the street 
Water a neighbor’s lawn/flowers 
Snap a photo of a couple 
Give someone a gift card that you don’t intend to use 
Wash someone’s car 
Read to kids at the library for story time 
Plan a surprise birthday party for someone 
Perform a concert at a retirement home 
Help do chores at a farm/ranch 
Leave your waiter a generous tip 
Start mentoring a younger child 
Spend time with your grandparents 
Make a family member breakfast in bed 
Hold the elevator for someone 
Pay for someone’s dry cleaning 
Pack someone a lunch for the day
Make hot chocolate for your family on a cold day 
Take the time to appreciate the sunrise and sunset 
Write someone an encouraging poem 
Send coloring books to sick kids in the hospital 
Celebrate your own best friend appreciation day 
Help tutor a struggling student 
Pay for student’s lunches 
Offer to give a friend a ride home 
Take the time to listen to someone 
Recycle things that you see on the road 
Help sick animals find homes 
Make someone a homemade blanket or scarf 
Feed the birds in the park 
Leave some change on a wishing fountain 
Donate your hair after a haircut 
Give your umbrella to a stranger 
Volunteer to work some overtime at your job 
Ride your bike or walk to work 
Offer compliments to strangers and friends and family 
Buy your waiter/waitress dessert 
Wash a neighbor’s dog for free 
Buy groceries for the person behind you 
Reconnect with old friends 
Hide money in random places for strangers to find

Infuse your life with kindness. It just might be the best thing you can do for yourself.

Dr. Wendy Rae. D.D. 
Founder of Our Soul Oasis Magazine


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