Spontaneous Acts of Kindness

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

As I stroll on a city sidewalk, I see a young mother gently instruct her two-year-old to move over, to make room for me on the walkway. I say a heartfelt, “Thank you” to both of them.

Not all societies teach their children to create room for others to walk by them. I’ve been in other countries where, even just two people in a pedestrian passageway don’t appear to see me coming, don’t make way and block the path. When I encounter this, it makes me deeply appreciate the United States. Regardless of age, gender, or race, Americans automatically make way for a walker coming from the opposite direction.

On sidewalks, I applaud every mother that I see moving her children away from passersby. She’s a hero in transmitting cultural kindness through the generations. 

Spontaneous kindness occurs while driving on Hawaii streets, where drivers routinely slow down to allow other cars to change lanes and pull in front of them. Such small gestures, along with the shakas of thanks, multiplied by thousands of drivers each day, immeasurably enhance personal happiness and highway safety for all, creating a spirit of aloha on the road.

The shaka is a driver’s way of smiling and being helpful from inside an auto. Outside the car, people who take a moment to smile or to genuinely help me, immeasurably lift my spirits. In the art supply store, I wanted a certain size and opaque white pen. The clerk went out of his way to bring me samples I could try out on scratch paper. Because of this, I knew I’d found the perfect pen for my project. I also felt suffused with ample gratitude that I could pass on to the next person.

Small acts of genuine kindness have enormous impact on our world, just as Archbishop Tutu says.

Cate Burns is the author of Libido Tsunami: Awash with the Droll in Life, in which she unearths the ludicrous in the emotional live traps surrounding us — in families, friends and disastrous romances. Get it on Amazon today.