Random Acts of Kindness

Christmas is nearly upon us and 2008 beckons.

This will be the last edition of Insights for 2007. I’ll be taking a two-week break from writing and will resume ‘normal service’ again around the 7th of January, assuming I survive the festive season!

I’m sure you have lots to do in preparation for your own celebrations and get-togethers, so I’ll keep this newsletter relatively short and light.

In the spirit of Christmas and the related tradition of present giving at this time of the year, I thought I would talk about something that is a rather understated – but in my opinion wonderfully effective – part of the New Insights life coaching programme.

We call it RAK. This stands for Random Acts of Kindness.

As part of our life coaching programme we introduce our clients to the wonders of RAK. For some, performing random acts of kindness comes very naturally. For others more of a conscious effort is required. However, in every case people benefit from the experience.

If you’re not someone who’s naturally inclined to perform random acts of kindness – and to be honest, most of us aren’t – I invite you to start today. Try it out and see the magical effect that it has.

When I was first introduced to the idea of performing random acts of kindness by my personal coach, I admit that I felt just a trifle offended. After all, I believed I was already a kind person in many ways. I gave money to charity every month. I felt I was a generous giver to my family, and so on. Why did she feel that I needed to do more?

I had missed the point.

RAK, as I was to find out, is about ‘living in the now’, being spontaneous, spreading a little joy, connecting with others and, frankly, having a bit of fun! It’s not something you plan. It just happens when the situation arises.

It took me a bit of practice to get into the swing of RAK – and I still have to remind myself to keep in the habit but every time I make the effort it leaves me feeling great.

OK, so what, exactly, is a random act of kindness?

Well, I’m not convinced there’s a great deal of benefit to be gained from trying to define RAK, but if it is helpful for some of you, here’s what I would venture:

A spontaneous action, taken in appropriate situations, that takes little effort but promotes the well-being of another or others and oneself.

I remember walking down Fulham Road in Chelsea last year feeling rather satisfied at the packets full of Christmas gifts that I had bought for my kids. As I was day dreaming about he fun of opening presents on Christmas day I stumbled over the leg of a destitute man who was sitting on the sidewalk, shivering from the cold. I started to apologise but he was a step ahead of me.

“I’m really sorry,” he said. “I should have moved my legs out of your way but to be honest I’m so cold, I don’t have the energy. Anyway, have a lovely Christmas. God bless you and your family.”

I was completely taken aback at his politeness and the fact that he didn’t ask me for money or food. In an almost automatic response, I crossed the road, entered a department store and purchased a big fluffy blanket. I took it over to him and said “Here, Happy Christmas.” His face lit up with happiness.

“Thank you so very much” he said. “That is really very kind of you.”

I struck up a simple conversation with him and he detected my South African accent. Immediately he switched the discussion to rugby and the Springboks’ chances of winning the coming World Cup. We had a great chat and I left feeling that I had made a friend.

Back in my cozy flat, as I reflected on the event, I realized that what I had done for him was in direct response to his random act of kindness to me. For very little effort we both ended up feeling wonderful as a result.

My wife made me smile the other day. We were driving to our local shopping mall and had stopped at a traffic light. In the uniquely South African tradition we were approached by a hawker selling the usual ‘trinkets and trash’ (actually that’s a tad unfair – some of the stuff they sell can be quite innovative).

Unlike so many other motorists who keep their windows firmly shut and look the other way so as not to have to deal with the rather in-your-face sales talk, my wife chose to wind down the window and start a happy banter with the hawker, who didn’t seem at all concerned that she had no intention of buying anything.

“What was that about” I asked, as the lights turned green and we pulled away.

“That’s my friend,” said my wife. “He gave me one of his little flowers for nothing the other day because he says he likes my red hair.” Now I always have a little chat with him when he’s around. He makes me laugh. He’s got a good sense of humour.” The hawker’s random act of kindness to my wife had prompted her to offer her own form of kindness in response.

As a result of this experience I have started looking at traffic light hawkers in a completely different way. Though I never, or very seldom, buy anything, I try to make the effort to compliment them on what they’ve fabricated or wish them good luck with selling whatever they have to offer. And in response I nearly always get a broad smile and a “Thank you, have a nice day.”

Random acts of kindness can take so many different forms but they always have the same effect – spreading a little more joy and happiness and making the person performing the act feel wonderful in the process.

Go on, try it out. I guarantee you that if you do, you’ll want to do it again and again and…

And now for the sales talk…

If you’re someone who loves performing random acts of kindness and enjoys helping others to gain joy and happiness through achieving their dreams, why not study with New Insights to become a certified life coach?

Find out more about our home study programme by visiting our website. For a modest investment you could change your career and change your life – for the better! I wish you a wonderful festive period and look forward to connecting with you again in the New Year.

Till then

Warm regards


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