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Paying It Forward With Random Acts Of Kindness

Barbara Steckly

Barbara Steckly

Remember when you first heard the phrase, “Random Act of Kindness”?

Since its inception, so many organizations have promoted the concept in their various campaigns to spread positivity, it’s now a part of the popular vernacular.

In actuality, author Anne Herbert is said to have originally penned the phrase, "practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty" on a placemat in California way back in 1982. She was toying with the idea of a contrasting, more life-affirming version of the title of Jack Womack’s novel, Random Acts of Senseless Violence. Herbert’s own book, Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty, published in February 1993, a compilation of true stories describing various good deeds.

Just what is a Random Act of Kindness?

Defined as a spontaneous, arbitrary action designed to show generosity, consideration, or concern for others without expectation of praise or reward, this concept appears in countless cultures. For instance, the tradition of a caffè sospeso, Italian for suspended or pending coffee, began in the working-class cafés of Naples. Someone feeling generous and in the money would purchase two cups of coffee but only receive one, leaving the other there at the café in escrow, in a sense, for someone less fortunate who could inquire as to whether a free sospeso was available. Personally, I like the name “caffè a sorpresa” myself, sorpresa being Italian for the word surprise.

Could it be, however, that this delightful practice of unexpected, gratuitous generosity, paying it forward, in essence, promoting unity, hope and goodwill, has taken a backseat to all the pervasive suspicion and anxiety that seems to have a grip on today’s world? Yes, we are all feeling the lack of control and fear of the future unknown. Here, at Preferred Client Services, we’d like to put forth the suggestion that we would all make it through this challenging transition more optimistically if we were to stop and think before we react. Let’s muster up even more compassion and understanding for others than we ever have in the past. We’ve all heard the stories of people under so much stress that they vent their frustration and anger indiscriminately. Let’s start simply by just not retaliating, but rising above instead, being patient and kind.

An empathetic act of kindness and charity helps others...

certainly, it also tremendously uplifts the one who energetically puts forth that love and tolerance. What you do really does come back to you. On a larger scale, it helps us all positively evolve as a society when so much seems to be devolving further out of control. Not only is it the time of the season for this attitude of gratitude and selflessness, but it’s, undoubtedly, the time in our lives, in the world today, to make a powerful impact by paying it forward, practicing random actions that spread compassion, hope, and joy.

There are so many worthy organizations just in this city alone who would welcome any kind of donation on your part, even if it’s simply your interest and time. Edmonton’s Food Bank, Santa’s Anonymous, and the Silver Skate Festival are a few of our seasonal favourites at Preferred Client Services. If you’re looking for opportunities closer to your own heart, we have a wide range of charitable pursuits such as the Center for Family Literacy, Change for Children, My Luvpack, Adaptabilities, and the Nina Haggerty Center for the Arts.

There is more than one way to make a difference in our community!

Ultimately, it’s not about contributing an abundance of financial resources to charities. We can only do what we can. The wonderful truth is that we can still make an extremely powerful difference in the world just by inspiring the people around us to see things from a more positive perspective. It all comes down to the good old golden rule: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. So, next time you’re in line to fuel up on caffeine, buy the person beside you or in the car behind you a surprise cup of coffee!

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