Several years ago, while I was on my way home from work, I noticed that I was driving practically on fumes. I pulled into the Kwik Trip near my house to get some gas. Knowing I had a tight budget, I squeezed the nozzle a few times until I hit a certain amount. I walked into the store to pay for it, and as soon as I said the pump number, the cashier smiled at me and told me that someone had bought my gas for me. I quickly scanned the store and peered outside to no avail; I couldn’t identify who this kind soul was. In that profound moment, I knew he or she did not want to be known. I had just been gifted a random act of kindness (RAK).
A couple years later, that RAK was still fresh in my thoughts. In 2012, I made a New Year’s resolution to do a RAK every single day for an entire year. What at first was a novel idea turned into a complete lifestyle change. I’m not saying I was an entirely selfish person in my pre-RAK days, but I definitely learned some important life lessons in the process.
One lesson that comes to mind was when my daughter and I decided to hand out white roses as a RAK at a local store. We were walking around giving them out to customers and a worker exclaimed, “Those are my favorite! I love white roses.” We gave her the last white rose, and she started crying. In that moment, I learned to be very observant of my surroundings. Someone may speak of a need, and I can do my best to try to deliver it. A small act of kindness can have a great impact.
Another lesson came in the tenacious small frame of a 12-year-old girl diagnosed with leukemia. A friend referred her family to me in an effort to help coordinate a RAK Christmas. I shared the family’s story with my friends, and one after another, they donated gifts for this very special family. After delivering the gifts and sharing Christmas cheer with them, the connection continued. I visited her in the hospital and was amazed at her strength to battle one of life’s toughest obstacles, an obstacle no kid should ever have to face.
What really touched my heart was the day I got a text from her asking if we could do a RAK for one of her new friends who was also in the hospital facing the battle of her life. I was completely blown away that this 12-year-old girl was fighting for her life, and yet, she wanted to do a RAK for someone else. She helped me realize that no matter where you are in life, there’s always an opportunity to help someone, even if you’re not feeling your best.
They say it takes 90 days before something becomes a habit. This is the first New Year’s resolution I have not broken.
Danielle Teal is a Random Acts of Kindness lover.