The "front" of my little happiness war, I mean.
In case you haven't read the post yet, I'm responding to the increasing violence and hatred in the world by waging my own little war of kindness. I'm not delusional (much.) I know that I'm not saving the world by buying someone a cup of tea --but I can't just sit around watching the haters continue to spread intolerance and vitriol without doing anything. Something has to happen to start tipping the scale back on the side of good. (I said it better the first time. Go read the post --we'll wait for you.)
Anyway, I decided to become a Love Ninja.
It is, possibly, the most fun thing I've ever done.
Mostly, my little seeds of kindness have taken the form of warm liquid. (I don't know what that says about me.) I've been buying the next person behind me a hot tea in the tea shop, or coffee at the local food market or I've even bought the next person behind me some soup at the local bakery a few times. (I try to go local because even if the clerk forgets, I'm putting a little money into the small business owner's pocket, so it's still a win. It's hard to be a small business owner today.)
So far, my favorite encounters are the ones where I get to see what happens when the person gets a little happiness delivered to them free-of-charge. It doesn't happen that often because usually, I just pay and go--I'm consciously trying to not make these gifts about ME, but rather about the recipient. So far, my all-time favorite was when I was still standing at the counter in the tea store when the clerk informed the young woman (not much older than my older daughter) that her tea had been paid for by someone else. She looked up in utter disbelief. "Oh, yeah, RIGHT," she said. And then she was so happy when it turned out to be true! Made my day.
Another really fun aspect of all of this is that I get the people behind the counter involved in what I'm doing. And the looks on their faces...! I think, you know, that most people in the service/retail industries have just come through the most hectic and worst time of the whole year. On one day when I was paying forward a little happiness in the tea store, the owner told me that her day had started off with a customer screaming at her and storming out after he broke some merchandise and refused to pay for it. This time of year doesn't always bring out the best in people. Although I'm not giving the clerks gifts, the way they react to getting to be the bearer of good news is really heart-warming.
The other thing I've learned is that I'm really handicapped in the Good Samaritan business because I'm so shy. One day, I bought these little ten-cup packages of tea and I was going to take them to a crew working on the electric lines on a street near our house. I drove past them twice, but just couldn't bring myself to stop and get out of the car. (I left the little tea sampler bags on the cars parked in the front of the yoga studio, instead.) When I have to explain what I want to do to the clerks behind the counter, I break out in a sweat. It's so totally worth it, but it takes reaching out of my comfort zone.
Not everything I do has money associated with it. I find that the impulse to give people stuff is matched by the impulse to just...well, GIVE in general. So I rush to hold the door open for people or I let people out in traffic. I helped a woman carry her packages to her car. I'm digging into my yarn stash to make some hats. I just...I just want to indulge in some mindful kindness.
Once the kids are back in school, I'm hoping to venture a little farther afoot--maybe helping at a soup kitchen, maybe taking sandwiches to the day laborers. I feel certain the opportunities will present themselves if I'm looking.
It's not too late if you want to join me. The New Year is approaching and, as Sri Dharma Mittra says, "How you start something is of great significance." How should we start 2013? I say we do it with kindness and love.
(And also? Yoga. Lots of yoga. More about that in my next post.)