A random act of kindness once made me fall in love with a boy (that and his curly black hair!).
It happened in 1981, we were teenagers, both at college with very little money. He was earning a pittance from a Saturday job.
Each week we would visit a Belfast burger bar, at the time it was thought the ultimate cool teen hangout. I would often wonder why my black-haired boy would frequently buy a burger for me and two for himself, but would only ever eat one of the burgers.
I would coax him to take the other burger with him when we left, but he always chose to leave it behind, ushering me quickly out.
One day the mystery of the extra burger was solved when I happened to look back up the restaurant upon our exit.
A table at the back of the eatery was often frequented by a scruffy, bearded, old, gentleman.
He was obviously down on his luck; the flapping sole of one of his boots was held on with a rubber band and his clothes were threadbare.
The staff would let him nurse a coffee in the warmth. As we left, the man moved towards the table we had been sitting at and lifted the burger still wrapped in its foil that black-haired-boy had left behind.
I suddenly realised he had been buying the extra food for the old man each time he’d spotted him, yet didn’t want to embarrass him by offering it to him, nor was he looking for recognition for his kindness by telling me what he was doing.
Upon this knowledge I fell for him hook, line and sinker. How could one not fall for a boy with such a kind heart?
This memory snuck back into my mind upon learning today is World Kindness Day.
The concept of Kindness Day was started on November 13, 1997 by a collection of humanitarian groups who came together and made a ‘Declaration of Kindness’.
Everyone is encouraged to make a similar affirmation today and carry out a random act of kindness like perhaps donating something to charity, holding the door open for a stranger or even just giving someone a compliment.
Research has revealed that kindness is good for us and the best thing is, it doesn’t cost a thing!
Countless studies have proven the best way to increase our happiness is by making others happy.
Being kind and generous has been linked to greater life satisfaction, stronger relationships, better mental and physical health and even a longer life!
Studies also suggest that kindness is contagious. No doubt many will be influenced into carrying out their own act of kindness after reading this week of the heart-warming story of the compassionate Belfast bus driver.
The driver stopped his bus to deliver a coat he had bought especially for a homeless man.
On witnessing the act, a passenger on board shared the driver’s kind deed on her Facebook page.
Her post was liked hundreds of times and lots of comments were left praising the driver’s generosity.
Wordsworth said; “the best bits of a man’s life are the simple, random acts of kindness and love” and that may well be true.
There’s even something very comforting and uplifting just reading about acts of kindness like the bus driver’s, particularly in these times of terrible conflict and atrocity. It brings us a renewed faith in human nature.
Psychological studies have shown that an act of kindness has a positive three-way effect.
It is beneficial for the person on the receiving end of the act, there’s also the ‘helper’s high’ which is experienced by the person giving the kindness and a feeling of elation is also felt by passers-by who just happen to witness the act (such as the joyfulness felt by the passenger on the kindly driver’s bus).
Kindness connects us to one another in a positive way, it can even cause some of us to fall in love when we see the depth of caring some people are capable of.
And what became of the burger buying, black-haired boy of 1981 I hear you cry (well not really, but I want to tell you anyway), Reader, I married him!
Yes, silver may now be creeping into his black hair, but he still has a heart of gold!