We’ve been living in tumultuous times lately. Numerous global natural disasters and acts of terror have left many of us feeling divided and helpless, especially when we have friends and loved ones directly impacted. Protests, both peaceful and not so peaceful, have had a profound impact on all of us. We share the same space but sometimes our beliefs and viewpoints couldn’t be further apart.
Whether or not you acknowledge it, we’re all impacted by these events. How it affects each of us is very personal and unique to our circumstances. I’m assuming (always a gamble) that many of us want a respite from the things that seem to be spinning out of control all around us – yet a common thread is thinking, “What can I do? I’m only one person.” But guess what? The difference one person can make can affect more people than you might think.
A few months ago, I was at a coffee shop to pick up a drink I’d ordered in advance. My coffee was waiting for me, but I got in line because I wanted to get some fruit. Someone said to me, “Are you in line – you already have your coffee?” To which I replied that I just wanted to get a banana. He responded, “I’m buying your banana today…I got it.” I felt kind of awkward and declined – and then he said, “Let me do something nice for you.” I really stopped and thought about that. A stranger wanted to do something nice for me, no questions asked, no reciprocity expected. He just wanted to buy me a banana. So, I graciously accepted.
In a world where we are so divided, the simple act of a stranger buying my banana made my day brighter – we made a connection based on kindness. I couldn’t care less about his politics, religion, agenda or who he is. To me, he was just a nice man who filled my morning with joy and gave me hope for humanity. The best part was that I was able to pay it forward and do something nice for someone else – just because I could.
With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to practice small acts of love and compassion with people in your own community. It’s not hard to hold a door, let someone into your lane during rush hour or let someone with fewer items ahead of you in the supermarket checkout. Some other ideas to consider are:
- Adopt a service member or military family for the holidays
- Help a new military spouse get settled on base
- Invite the new couple down the street to your holiday party
- Ask a fellow spouse to join you for a cup of coffee or a movie
With everything happening around us, it’s more important than ever to find ways to be kind – and to teach kindness to our children. In doing so, we find that even as “just one person,” we can make a big difference. Just imagine what would happen if everyone practiced this every day – miracles!