One of my favorite things in the world is seeing the look on someone’s face when something kind is done for them… with no expectation of anything in return. It’s the way a harried mom looks when you return her grocery cart for her… it’s the smile that lights up someone’s eyes when you compliment them… it’s the happiness that registers, after the shock wears off, that someone has just done something purely for kindness’ sake. It’s just so soul-uplifting.
I know there are many who actually make money suggesting ways for people to participate in Random Acts of Kindness. There’s an official website (www.randomactsofkindness.org) and a group (RAOK.group) as well as countless links to help everyone be more kind to our fellow man. I’d like to suggest a way for everyone to get in on the act this year.
It doesn’t take a lot of money… it doesn’t take a great deal of time… and it doesn’t take much imagination or skill… it just takes the desire to step out of your comfort zone for a few seconds and be brave enough to approach another person to hand them a Valentine and wish them a happy day. Yes, I’m suggesting that everyone take a moment on Valentine’s Day to give a Valentine to someone you don’t know. A Random Act of Valentine-ing, if you will.
A manager from Starbucks did this for me about 8 years ago and it inspired me to continue his wonderful idea ever since. It really IS simple. Each year, after Valentine’s Day, I purchase a few boxes of goofy, childish, silly Valentines and put them away for the following year. A few days prior, I choose the box I’ll use that year and label every single card, “To YOU, From Me” and fold them up. On February 14th, I really don’t plan anything special. I go about my normal day traveling to the grocery, the drug store, the bank… anywhere I’d typically go on that day. The only difference is that I look for people to whom I can hand a Valentine. It might be that older person who seems a little sad… it might be the greeter at WalMart… it might be the cashiers I meet or the people stocking shelves… it might just be someone who doesn’t seem to be having a good day. Look each person in the eye and simply say, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” as you hand them a card. You may never know how this simple act will affect the other person, but you’ll be astounded at just how wonderful it makes you feel.
Everyone deserves to have a Valentine’s Card to make them feel special. Who knows if your moment with them will be their only bright spot on an otherwise dreary and lonely day. The ripple effect of this small, simple, yet incredibly kind gesture might never be known to you, but I was blessed last year to find that my younger son had been watching me and used this idea as the basis for one of his admissions essays. Please indulge a proud mama by reading his essay below:
Mankind is not perfect. We constantly instigate warfare, hatred, and discrimination against our own people. However, despite the evils that plague our planet, fundamental kindness still conquers evil. Humans are capable of showing an immense amount of kindness for their brethren. This kindness is defined as an act of compassion without expecting personal benefit. Every day, people commit to making others just a little happier through small favors, held open doors, and a handful of pocket change in an empty cup. The purest of all the random acts of kindness, however, is an anonymous one. Therefore, to represent the human race I would choose an anonymous valentine.
Every year on Valentine’s Day, my mother buys a box of cheap valentines and writes “To: You, From: Me” on them. She then hands them out to anyone she sees simply to brighten his or her day. She realizes that her flimsy piece of cardboard may be the only loving gesture that many people get on a day meant to celebrate one another, so she never misses a year. She just wants to make sure everyone has a chance to feel loved. To me, this represents mankind’s incredible power to care for others without personal gain.
Humans have endured century upon century of torment. Natural disasters have ravaged our lands and disease has killed our families. Guns have found their way into our hands and our minds have been poisoned with intentions of murder. However, in spite of these increasingly difficult times, we continue to function together as a family and be kind to our fellow man. We hold our heads high, looking past all of the negatives, and we still strive for a better future. We hoard our valentines from the people dearest to us, and from the people that we don’t even know, to remind us that we all deserve to be loved.
It is hard to overlook the hardships that we humans go through when finding something to embody mankind. However, I have seen the effects of an anonymous valentine firsthand. The smiles on strangers’ faces, the friends my mother makes, and the hope she gives to people all restore my faith that at its core, mankind is compassionate and kind. – EBA 2/11
That “Ripple Effect”? It can be pretty awesome when it comes back to you.
As we approach Valentine’s Day this year, let’s not just try and shower our loved ones with chocolates and presents. These are wonderful, but let’s all try and share a little bit of happiness with the world around us. Buy a box of Valentines, like you got in grade school… sign each one “To YOU, From Me”… and hand them out on Valentine’s Day to everyone in whom you come in contact. It just may make this special day one of the best you’ve ever had.
Random Acts of Kindness in the form of an anonymous Valentine… how easy, yet how monumental…
Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!