A resolution for all of us
The tinsel’s growing dusty, and our New Year’s Eve hangover is finally receding. So now it’s time to face up to 2013. Forget about New Year’s Resolutions they’re soo 2012.
There’s another way to feel good this year, and it doesn’t involve going on a diet or cutting back on the booze. It’s called paying it forward.
It involves doing a random act of kindness for someone else, for no other reason but to put a smile on their dial. It means baking a cake for a neighbour, picking up another person’s bill in a restaurant or leaving lotto tickets on a stranger’s car windscreen. The idea is that you repay the kindness of others by doing something for someone else you pay the kindness forward.
The idea has been around in the US for some time, and was even the name of a pretty bad 2000 movie.
But it’s had a recent resurgence in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.
Ann Curry, an American TV host, had the idea of encouraging people to do 26 acts of kindness in the name of the 26 people killed.
The idea quickly went viral, sparking a mini revolution of people buying others coffee, jump-starting other people’s cars on the freeway and paying off strangers’ lay bys.
I’m not about to turn into a fake schmaltzy do-gooder. But I do think it’s true that many of us are so busy caring for ourselves that we’ve stopped caring for each other.
It’s the little things that say a lot.
There’s the young people who are too busy shuffling songs on their ipods to stand up for an old lady on a train.
There are the quiet suburban streets where no one seems to know anyone else’s name.
And there are the drivers refusing to let other cars into their lane of traffic.
I’m not saying I’m doing any better than anyone else at looking after others.
I’m quite good at thinking about what I could do to help other people, but don’t actually get around to doing anything much about it.
A week or so ago when it was nearly 40 degrees, I thought about how two quite elderly people living alone on our street were faring in the sweltering heat.
But did I knock on their door to see if they needed anything? No.
And for a while now I’ve been thinking about how my family should perhaps become respite foster carers for a young child.
But have I done anything about it? No.
We have to remember that sometimes little things can make a really big difference.
We were welcomed to our new suburb a year or so ago by a neighbour who had brought us a coconut cake, still warm from the oven. She just wanted to make us feel welcome to the neighbourhood.
The cake was the start of a lovely friendship. Initially, we were worried she and her husband would resent all the noisy craziness of our family. But we got to know them and they told us they loved having kids playing in the street again it reminded them of when their own kids were young.
However, it’s not always easy to do nice things for others. One US man working in a chain restaurant told of how one of his customers paid the bill for another table, an elderly couple.
The old pair took some time to understand that complete strangers had picked up their tab, but finally got it. “Oh in that case, let’s order dessert then!” they said. Needless to say, they didn’t show their gratitude by paying for another table.
So this year, we all have a chance to do things differently.
Rather than looking back in regret, maybe it’s time to pay it forward. Gotta go, it’s going to be really hot today and I’ve got some neighbours to check up on.
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