I’ve always been a strong supporter of the ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) philosophy. I can’t remember when I became active in practicing it, because I can’t remember a time when I didn’t do it.
See the car flashing its lights and making a hand movement to indicate to go ahead and pull out in front of me when traffic is especially heavy? That would be me. See that person who, upon approaching the door to a public place, opens the door and stands aside so the person exiting can do so before entering? That would be me. See the person who sees stray shopping carts left askew in a store parking lot and gathers a few of them to return to the store on the way in? Yep, that would be me, too.
Now, before you think I’m taunting my niceness to get a pat on the back of some kind, let me tell you why I do it. Yes, there is something to be said for giving our fellow man a hand when it takes little from us to do so. But, in equal portions, I feel joy inside for doing something nice for someone else with no thought of repayment. I’ve done some things much more “out of my way” – an example is the time I saw someone walking home (which turned out to be over a mile away) in a misty rain carrying two plastic bags of groceries, whereupon I pulled up and got the person in my car and took them the rest of the way home and, when offered a couple of dollars for gas, my response, without thought was, “You can repay me by paying it forward.”
I believe in the idea that what you give out comes back to you ten-fold. I believe that these small, seemingly insignificant gestures in the general scheme of my life have no cost in giving them. I also believe that there is the possibility that something I’ve done to assist someone else may have an impact on their day without my ever knowing it.
When I get a wave, a nod, hear the words “thank you”, sure, it makes me feel even better, knowing that what I’ve done has been appreciated by the recipient. But, even without the acknowledgement, I will continue on with the same actions because I like how they make me feel for doing them. Ironically, it’s become such a way of life for me that it’s almost awkward for me to be the recipient of an act of random kindness. This is something I’ve had to learn to accept as graciously as I can, reminding myself that others also practice the ARK philosophy and I mustn’t stand in their way of doing so. Maybe it’s just that old adage that “it is better to give than to receive”?
Do you practice the ARK philosophy? What are some of your common gestures in doing so? And how does it make YOU feel?