Acts of Kindness

Smart Women, March 2003

by Cathleen Hanson

Picking up Trash
If you see a piece of trash, pick it up. Start with this: On your way from your car to your office building, pick up any paper that has blown into your path. In addition to keeping an area well maintained and attractive, this simple act tends to be contagious.

Yielding.
Another easy, and much appreciated spirit lifter. Become the antithesis of a road-rager. Drive kindly. Make room for other vehicles to pass and leave spaces for vehicles to enter your lane. In addition to lowering the blood pressure of those to whom you yield, this act of kindness brings good karma.

Turning Off Cell Phones.
This appears to be a not-so-easy, nearly impossible task for some. If you must take a call on your cell phone, apologize, step out of earshot from other people and speak quietly. If you are not expecting a call, turn your cell phone off. Cell phones must be off in restaurants (even for casual dining), in the theater, in meetings or when in a group.

Holding Doors.
This is an easy one. At doorways, pause long enough to hold the door for others who wish to enter of exit. For bonus spirit lifting, see someone with packages, small children, or strollers in tow and speed walk ahead of this person to open the door (or stop and offer to help carry the packages). For maximum spirit lifting, see someone struggling with packages while entering a neighboring office, dash out of your office and help with the packages and door (an employee here at the International School of Protocol was recently the recipient of this act of kindness and again, we say, “thank you,” to the anonymous person in the office at the far end of the building).

Greeting People with a Smile.
Another easy one. Imagine elevator doors opening and it’s show time! Or in this case, time for a smile-accompanied by, “Hello,” or perhaps, “Good morning.” An elevator is just one place to smile. Employees and volunteers in reception areas of offices and schools can brighten people’s days with their smiles. Smiles are contagious, cross-culturally universal and free. Smile and greet anyone and everyone. Definitely spirit boosting.