Before Random Acts of Kindness Week arrived this year, I challenged myself and my family to do one random act for someone else each day for the entire month of February. I was hoping that by the end of the month we would automatically add doing random acts into our daily lives.
It did not go quite as I planned.
Day 1: the compliments were a little over the top. "Gus [the dog], can I just say how well you wear that fur coat," one daughter said.
I vetoed the compliments to the dog, but pointed out that feeding him without being asked or letting him out were all fair game good acts.
My 13-year-old daughter made a list of "random" acts to perform. While the randomness was taken out of the equation, she did have some good ideas.
As we progressed through the month, the ideas really started flowing.
My younger daughter was suddenly getting water for her sister to take to soccer practice and then sprinting past me to open doors.
The 13-year-old switched groups in French class, even though she got her first choice of African countries to research, to help out a friend.
We brushed the snow off someone's car at church, shoveled grandpa's driveway before he came home from Florida and baked cookies for the bus driver, the mail lady, our neighbor and the teachers at school.
But we were foiled in our month-long quest. Here we were trying to do nice things for others and we were reaping the benefits. It seemed like every time we did something for someone else, we got paid back ten fold.
The mail lady wrote us the nicest thank you note and my neighbor sent me home with a coffee cake when I dropped off the cookies. Not to mention the happiness we felt after doing something for someone else.
Don't get me wrong. We still have a ways to go before this becomes automatic.
I walked out of the house the other morning while my daughter held the door for me. I didn't think anything of it until I heard her behind me, "Whew, got my random act of kindness done already."
"You know," I said. "You can do more than one random act a day."
I think we'll keep practicing.