Angels Among Us ~ #Kindness #PayItForward #Grateful

Angels Among Us ~ #Kindness #PayItForward #Grateful

I started thinking about this blog as the result of a recent experience. One I’m still a little dazed over. Following early morning appointments, I stopped at a local Olive Garden restaurant for lunch. The waiter showed me to a booth off in a little alcove where four other booths were situated. Across from me sat a couple, perhaps in their sixties with two young women in their early twenties.

I had dressed casually for the day, but not slovenly. I’d washed and styled my hair, applied light makeup, looked reasonably decent in slacks and blouse. Some months ago, I stopped coloring my hair, and the white streak that had first appeared at eighteen had now grown to cover my head. When had that happen? Premature whiting? Perhaps not all that premature as most people start graying (or in my case, whiting,) in their forties (much earlier for me.). I wonder if the lack of coloring my hair has added years/eons to my appearance? But then, I’m not that young anymore despite my efforts to ignore the march of time.

At any rate, I enjoyed a leisurely lunch, a real and seldom taken treat, read on my kindle, and ordered a decaf latte at the end of the meal. I seldom take these leisurely breaks without fretting about the long lists of things I’m supposed to accomplish every day, and usually fail at. No self-deprecation intended. I’m a habitually over-scheduler.

When it came time to pay the bill the waiter had only included a slip for the latte. Naturally, I assumed he’d made an error. When he returned at the wave of my hand, he explained there was no mistake. The people who had sat in the booth across from mine had paid for my lunch, before I’d ordered the latte. He could not offer any reason for their generosity as they had not given one, saying only that they wished to pay for my lunch.

I’ve done this myself on occasion: paid for someone’s coffee who was behind me in line or paid for sundaes ordered by two young men dressed in their Marine fatigues or covered someone’s shortage in the grocery line. I’ve even surreptitiously slipped a few bucks into the bag of a friend or a stranger’s bag in a bookstore. You knew I had to do some kind act relating to books, right?

But I’ve never had a stranger pay for my lunch, or anything else that I can recall. Oh, I’ve had friends or family pay for meals, and other entertainments, but never a stranger. I’d never given much thought to the feelings generated when one is on the receiving end of such random generosity. I only knew I walked a bit lighter on those occasions I extended myself.

I won’t deny that the incident shocked me, and I kept asking the waiter if he was certain the people who had paid my bill hadn’t given a reason for their generosity. But he repeatedly assured they’d offered no explanation.

This incident got me thinking about what it means to be the recipient of or to be the one extending an unexpected kindness or generosity, offered with no expectation of a thank you or reciprocation. Not only offered with no expectation but with no possibility of reciprocity.

It’s funny this incident occurred this year as the year began with a head-tilt toward gratitude. It has been my intention to write notes of gratitude to people in my life. I had the grand idea of completing at least one note or letter a week. Me and my exalted plans! ha-ha

I’ve completed some notes but have often ended up writing notes of condolences and encouragement instead. It’s been a year of losses, not just for me personally, but losses I’ve watched many friends endure. Thus, I’ve written more notes of encouragement or condolence than gratitude. In the process I’ve learned that condolence notes are often an expression of gratitude for how another person, whether close or loosely connected, has impacted my life and how appreciative I’ve been to have known that experience.

Also, at the beginning of the year, my publisher suggested her authors begin a “gratitude jar.” Each day, we’re encouraged to write a few words on a slip of paper and drop it in the jar. On the days we don’t complete the task or feel less than grateful, or if we’re too lazy, or too exhausted (a more likely scenario in today’s hectic world,) we drop our loose coins into a money jar. The money jar will go to a charity of choice at the end of the year. So, it’s a win even when we fail to acknowledge all the reasons we might be grateful. I’ll admit to being either too lazy, too exhausted, or too focused on other writing tasks on many days, so my money jar grows heavy with coins! Yay for a future charity pick!

However, with every note of appreciation written, every piece of paper slipped into the gratitude jar, or coins dropped in the money jar, I’ve grown more grateful for my life. Each effort has been an expression of kindness and each effort a gift of awakening in myself. Gratitude and kindness go hand in hand. Every act of kindness is also an expression of gratitude and every genuine word of thanks is a kindness.

I’ve even learned that acts of unkindness also hold the opportunity to examine my gratitude and kindness toward others (and myself.) Those hurtful moments remind me that I too have failed to be kind at times, and occasionally less than grateful for the abundance of tenderness and generosity I’ve known in my life. When I honestly examine an unkindness, I learn more about my own failings than those of the person who has offended or hurt me.

Therefore, I offer this blog and the concurrently running Rafflecopter as a small effort to “pay it forward.” My thanks to all of you who’ve taken time from your too busy schedules to read these words. Be someone’s angel today or tomorrow. And be sure to check out the Rafflecopter:

Namaste.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A few links if you want to read about other health benefits experienced when living a more grateful life.

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/benefits-gratitude-research-questions/#research

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude

6 Replies to “Angels Among Us ~ #Kindness #PayItForward #Grateful”

  1. If everyone would take time to have a “pay it forward” day….what a wonderful world this would be. My time is today at the “Eat-n-Park”. This is “warm feeling” reading….for sure. Thank you, Aleigha, fir making my day!

  2. Great story…I’m heading out this evening to the “Eat-n-Park” to do my “pay it forward”. What a wonderful world this would be if we all did some sort of “ pay it forward” each week. Thanks fir sharing Aleigha ….. it’s the little things that make the world SMILE!

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