I read a moving article a few weeks ago about a teenager named Alyssa Josephine O’Neil. Alyssa was a teenager living in Erie, PA preparing to begin her freshmen year of college. On September 3rd, she texted her mom and suggested they plan some time to visit Starbucks together so she could try a Pumpkin Spice Latte for the first time. But the day after the text, Alyssa passed away from an epileptic seizure. After her passing, her parents decided to honor their daughter by going to Starbucks and purchasing Pumpkin Spice Lattes for themselves and the next 40 customers. Alyssa’s parents asked the baristas to write #AJO on the cups of the free drinks and then explain to the customers why the drinks were free. What the O’Neils didn’t realize was that their gesture would lead those customers to respond in kind and pay it forward. According to the article, this act of kindness has spread through their community and to other parts of the country. What a wonderful way to honor their daughter’s life and use their sorrow and grief as motivation to show kindness to others!
I love the idea of random acts of kindness and paying it forward. Performing random acts of kindness is a win-win situation. When you perform a random act of kindness, it helps you feel like you are doing something that matters. You are happier because you are doing something to make the world better, even if it’s just a very small part of the world. And when you receive a random act of kindness, you feel happier too. People who receive random acts of kindness also report feeling more grateful, and generally more positive overall.
Random acts of kindness don’ t need to be elaborate or expensive. They can be as simple as dropping off some cookies for your new neighbors, dropping of a meal for a family with a new baby, or visiting an elderly relative. During this time of year, some neighborhoods practice paying forward random acts of kindness by starting the “You’ve Been BOOED” tradition. In case you’ve never heard of this before, one family puts together a simple basket containing homemade treats, or small, inexpensive gifts. They also include BOO instructions and a BOO sign. They leave the basket on a neighbor’s doorstep anonymously. That neighbor, upon receiving the BOO, hangs up the sign on their door or in their window that indicates that they’ve been BOOED and then proceeds to BOO someone else. It’s simple and inexpensive, but it certainly brings some happiness and fun to the people in the neighborhood.
It can be easy to get wrapped up in the difficulties in our own lives and all the bad things happening in the world. But performing random acts of kindness are an easy way to not only spread happiness to those around you but to also improve your own happiness as well.
Have you ever received or performed a random act of kindness? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!
Throughout the month of October, I’ll be sharing some ideas for simple changes you can make to improve your life. Did you miss a day? Visit the 31 Days Welcome page for links to each day.