I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person who will offer to hold a door open for someone with their hands full or give up my seat on the bus to someone who needs it more than I do. Once I was noticeably pregnant and since I’ve started to tote around my little one, it’s made me appreciate these random acts of kindness even more. It was a bit of a transition to allow myself to be on the receiving end of this special attention, but things like being offered a seat or being brought a homecooked meal really did make my life easier during what was otherwise a major life transition. Yet as I came out of the “fourth trimester” a few weeks ago, I began to realize that I’m no longer so helpless. In fact, I’m even capable of being helpful again. Which got me to thinking about all the different ways we can help out one another.
Sometimes we want to help, but we’re strapped for time or resources. You might think: “Sure, I would really like to make a gluten free casserole for my friend who just came home from the hospital, but I don’t exactly have a whole afternoon to go grocery shopping and slave over the stove. Besides, I’m not even sure such a thing as a gluten free casserole exists.” If you’re used to getting your dinner from the hot food bar at the grocery store or getting take out, just get an extra container of food or even just a selection of fresh fruit and drop it off for your friend. Or if a visit isn’t possible, try using a meal delivery service.
Observe and Be Thoughtful
As part of a campaign to prevent smartphone thefts, you can hear an announcement on buses in San Francisco telling you to “Keep your eyes up and your phone down while riding MUNI.” While this is a great way to keep your phone safe, I think it’s also a good way to be aware of other people on the bus who might need your help. Any time I sit down in a reserved seat on the bus, I look up at every stop to see if anyone is getting on who needs my seat more than I do. More times than I’d like to count I’ve seen some moron sitting in the front of the bus, absorbed in their smartphone world and oblivious to their elders, the disabled, and burgeoning pregnant bellies. When I’m off the bus, I’m certainly not on the hunt for good deeds to be done, but I have no problem offering to help the tourist poring over a map with directions or picking up the dropped scarf of the person walking in front of me.
So many people helped my husband and me during our first months as parents, bringing us meals or gifts for the baby, or even just lending an extra pair of hands. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for our friends and family. Some of these friends and family have since given birth to babies of their own or have come upon a challenging time of their own. And slowly but surely, I’ve been making the effort to return their kindness with a meal delivered, a gift sent, or an errand taken off the to-do list. I am a true believer in the law of reciprocity: what goes around, comes around - so try to make it more of the good stuff.
Say thank you
If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I am a big promoter of gratitude. Whether or not you are able to return the favor to someone who has helped you out, you can say thank you. Say it right then and there in the moment someone does something nice for you. Follow up with a text message or email to reiterate your thanks. Extra bonus points if you compose and send a handwritten note!
How have you helped someone out or repaid a favor recently? Let me know in the comments below.