We seem to have been taught to only do something if we can make it the best, the biggest, the loudest or the most visible. Just take a look at the avalanche of wedding proposals at football games, (I’ve always wondered “How do you say no in front of 60,000 people?”) or donations made to charities by celebrities with a television crew in tow. It’s like all of a sudden we are all participants in some ridiculous reality television show. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try for the best, or that there isn’t a place for that extraordinary grand gesture. What I am saying is that we seem to have forgotten the small stuff and the impact it can have on our lives.
Sometimes the small act like a hug, or the kind gesture of opening a door for someone, or sending a text message telling someone you are thinking of them, can be just as powerful.
Have you ever had an experience when someone has just thought of you first? They offered you the first taste of the tiramisu, or a complete stranger stood up for you on the bus? Or someone just went out of their way to do something kind for you.
The other day I had a post it note left on my key board at work which said, “Thank you for being you, from me.” So lovely. It made me feel like the best boss in the world.
When someone is kind to you, or does something small but caring, it makes you feel like there is goodness in the world after all. It’s amazing how something so small can have such a great affect, which often stays with you for hours or days.
Small, but grand gestures come in many guises. For example: saying thank you and meaning it!
When someone thanks you it shows respect and gratitude. You feel acknowledged for whatever it is that you have just done. So, when you thank someone, make sure you mean it. Say thank you with a genuine smile and look at the person you are thanking, whether they are handing you your take away coffee or opening a door for you, or have just driven you to the cemetery to visit your grandmothers grave. You will be amazed at the difference you are making for the person you are thanking.
Experiment with a small act of kindness.
A small act of kindness is about taking it to the next level. You are not just reacting to something another person has done for you. You are going out of your way, in a small way, to be kind to another human being. This could be someone you already know, like a family member or a friend, or a colleague at work.
I will often make a cup of tea or coffee for a colleague that may be working really hard on a project. I look for ways that I can support them in a small way: a cup of tea, grabbing them a takeaway coffee, helping to print off resources, or asking them how I can help? It’s also not uncommon for people in our team to leave notes of encouragement, (like my post it note) or to find a bunch of home grown flowers in a jar on your desk. These are small things that have made all of us feel acknowledged and cared for. The bonus is that as the manager, I am not the only one that does this. This culture in our team has grown over the years and nurtured by all of us and it plays a massive role in how we treat each other every day and how we function as a team.
So, here’s my 20 small, but truly grand gestures of kindness and other such things:
- Smile and mean it!
- Open doors for people.
- Give up your seat for someone else who needs it.
- Leave a post it note with a positive message about the person. (Thank you for your help – you were amazing! I couldn’t have done it without you! You are a star! etc )
- Send a text message.
- Make a simple card with a positive message and give it to the person you think needs it the most. For extra creative points you can get a card making kit and fill it with sparkles (you can get these for next to nothing at the $2 shop).
- Make cup cakes and share these at morning tea.
- Give 5 minutes of your precious time and talk with that old lady sitting across from you on the tram, or the young boy at the supermarket check out.
- Help the mum or dad with the pram get on the bus!
- Give flowers – this is always lovely and definitely kind.
- Make someone a cuppa when they least expect it.
- Cook someone dinner (It’s ok if this is spaghetti bolognese or eggs on toast!)
- Offer to give someone a lift – even if they are not going in your direction. Sometimes the best conversations happen on a mini road trip (even the 15 minute ones!)
- Become someone’s unofficial support person (be the one that checks in to see how they are travelling)
- Put up your hand to be the photographer at the next family event.
- Talk with that shy person in the corner – you never know who may be lurking under those cast down eye lashes.
- Help wash the dishes! Better yet – wash the dishes or stack the dish washer – again, always a lovely thing to do!
- Loan out that dress/book/pair of shoes/jacket/suitcase…
- Make that phone call to your mum or dad…or great aunt.
- Bring chocolate to any crisis. It helps and this is probably more of a grand gesture!
And as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”