When my kids were younger and would get “stuffitis” (wanting more and more stuff), I would tell them the cure for stuffitis is to give some stuff away. On occasion, even now that they are entering adulthood, it will come up. Stuffitis isn’t just an affliction restricted for children. Adults suffer from this from time to time. Similarly, we sometimes start feeling like we need to hoard the stuff we have, for fear that it is disappearing. Lately, I think this comes up for me with money. And with all the extra expenses that seem to come up this time of year with holidays and such, I was feeling that tightening fear. I remembered the cure for stuffitis is to give stuff away and if it is money that seems to be the “stuff” I am wanting more of, perhaps I need to give some away. The other day, I decided to act on this in the form of a random act of kindness. I paid for the person behind me in the drive-through at Starbucks.
Little did I know that this simple act would bring up other issues…. For one thing, I was at the window at Starbucks a long time. I guess they were really busy and it took longer to make my drink. The girl did seem confused when I said I wanted to pay for the person behind me, which surprised me because I hear about this practice in various venues quite often. I didn’t want to explain myself to her but she kinda shrugged it off and let it happen. Since it seemed to take a while to make my drink (I of course ordered for myself as well), the cashier changed. I found myself wondering and worrying about how the “the person in front of you paid for your coffee” would go down. Would they even get it? Would the new cashier be confused and charge them anyway? Would no one benefit from my random act of kindness? I was getting frustrated and wanting to do something like go back and see how it happened. But the thing is, I don’t think that is what is supposed to happen with such an act of kindness. You are to do this and let it go, allowing nothing to immediately come back to you. No “thank you” or acknowledgement of any kind….just the joy of doing something for another person you don’t know. The exercise is more for you than the person benefiting. Or so I think….
So, this little act that I thought would help me release some fear brought up other things for me I didn’t even realize would come up. I began to process my fear even more and realized I had wanted to control even this small exercise. Before long, I would come to the conclusion that I needed to continue this exercise….repeat it again and again to allow me to fully learn and grow. Letting go….a huge concept. So I noticed I did this on December 12th (12/12). I thought I might repeat this on the 12th of every month. But I love to play games with numbers and dates sometimes, so I decided I would repeat this on the doubles of the month, as in January 1st (1/1) and February 2nd (2/2) and so on. If it works well in 2014, I may choose something to try on the doubles in 2015. And in a week or two, I am going to talk about having a word of the year and how this “doubles” exercise of mine will fit in with my word for 2014.
Do you ever practice random acts of kindness? What have you done? What comes up for you when do them? If you haven’t practice random acts, have you thought about? What stops you from giving it a try?