Yesterday I was having a very lousy day, anxiety-wise. Actually, lately I’ve been having mostly lousy days anxiety-wise. Since there is nothing right now I can do about my actual problems, I have to keep them for the time being, but in my incapability to just stay still in this mud, I have been prey of the most terrible mood swings. I pass from total depression and anxiety attacks and weeping to a state of complete hyperactivity when I drag my friends outside to be eaten alive by mosquitos just so I can consume some of my bottled-up energy. I feel a constant grip at my chest, I can hardly eat and breathing feels like lifting 50-kilo weights.
Back to yesterday, in one of my depressive moments I was going to meet a dear friend of mine. On my way there, I walked off the sidewalk to let a woman in high-heels pass there – in my town, all is pebbles off the sidewalk. I never get how women here still even think of wearing heels, considering the difficulties involved in crossing the streets and the high chance of the heels getting stuck between pebbles, but I tend to experience compassion and move aside nonetheless. This time, though, something pretty rare happened: this woman smiled at me and said “Thank you”.
Now I don’t know where you reader come from, but down here “Thank you”s and smiles don’t really fall from the sky. People here apparently believe that every act of kindness is due to them, and no act of kindness is due to others. Nobody looks at you in the eyes – at their best, they will look at your clothes. Nobody smiles at random people in the streets when their gazes meet – they only smile at the camera of their own phone. Well, almost nobody.
The day before yesterday, something similar happened. I was waiting for a friend, I was leaning with my back on the wall and my backpack on the floor. When I saw a woman approaching, I immediately moved my backpack so she wouldn’t have to get out of her way to pass, and at that point she looked up, smiled and thanked me. On this occasion, I only smiled wide and my eyes got a bit wet. Yesterday, however, I was feeling slightly more emotional, so my smile quickly turned into an outburst of tears and sobs – yes, in the middle of the street, which was luckily deserted.
This reminded me of myself some years ago, when I got into the habit of sticking little post-it notes containing motivational thoughts or smileys to the windows on trains, or slipping them into strangers’ postboxes. Those things used to make my day. I also tore the corners of the last pages off my notebooks to scribble something nice on them and leave them inside random books in libraries and bookshops.
Random acts of kindness may not be the greatest fashion anymore, but what if that changed? What if we changed that? There is such a strong power in our words and in our smiles. By one small random act of kindness we can change another person’s day and also our own. One compliment. One supporting word. One smile. One thank you. One note. To a friend, a relative, or a stranger. If you would like to receive it, it’s well-worth starting to do it and spread the habit, because one day it’s going to come back to you. And it’s gonna be awesome.
[Btw, a fellow blogger just started a side project with a blog entirely dedicated to her 365 acts of kindness – one per day, for a year… Take a look for inspiration!]