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At the start of 2017 I decided I wanted to embark on some changes in my life. The main one to be happier. I thought about all the things that I can do in life that make me happy. There are some of the superficial ones, like spending cash on nice items for myself and my family. Then there are the more meaningful ones like helping others, donating to charity, being kind, looking out for others and being a good person. This is what happened when I committed RAOK (random acts of kindness) for an entire year!
Firstly, if you’re interested you can read my original post from January 2017 about wanting to complete random acts of kindness. You can also read my first update, which I published in March 2017. Since then I’ve been a little quiet on the update front, however, I HAVE been committing more RAOK than EVER BEFORE! I’m absolutely loving it!
I would say that the above phrases really ARE true. More than ever recently.
Why I like to commit RAOK
It makes me feel good, and usually it makes other people feel good. It is a great chance to let someone know, for a fleeting moment, that they are deserving of help, that not everyone in the World is blinkered and that there ARE nice people around.
Ways I find RAOK to commit
I listen. All the time. When I’m out, I have one headphone in. I listen out for opportunities. I’m basically a bit nosy. I’m always looking for someone struggling with a pushchair, or someone who looks like they need help. Then I head on over and ask them if they would like help. Sometimes I just say ‘let me help you with that’ other times I say more specific things such as ‘would you like me to help you with putting your shopping in your scooter’. The main reason for this is that I don’t want people to feel worried, or intimidated, if I just suddenly start touching their belongings.
Some of my favourite RAOK
Sending surprise gifts in the post to people has to be one of my favourite RAOK. Recently I’ve tried to think about specific items that I know people will love, rather than just sending random gifts. I love these RAOK so much because I usually arrange them and then promptly forget! Until the recipient gets in touch or I see something on social media.
Also, giving gifts in person is pretty nice. I went to a weekend of blogging conferences recently and I took some gifts along with me to give to people. Some were having a hard time, some were just lovely people and I tried to do it discretely, so people wouldn’t ask them what was happening or why I had given them a gift. As some of the people I gave gifts too are having a hard time personally and it may not be common knowledge.
Helping people on the tube, train or at the supermarket. Recent examples include helping someone with a wheelchair on the stairs at the tube, helping old people put their shopping on the belt at the supermarket, or waiting to put it in their mobility scooters once they are finished.
Paying bills for people. This is mostly people close to me, rather than strangers, but it is still completed at random. I’ve paid a few unexpected bills, and helped a couple of people with a little bit of money towards food shopping or other items.
My biggest mistake with a RAOK
I was on the underground in London, back in September, and I saw a woman at the top of the stairs struggling with two suitcases. I offered to take one and carry it down and she was really happy. It was genuinely the heaviest thing I’ve ever carried. I’m pretty sure I was helping her carry a body to be honest. Then when we got off the tube she happened to walk past me again and was so pleased that it was me and I would help her back up the stairs. Which I did. Pretty sure my back is still hurting now!
What have I learned while committing lots of RAOK?
For me I have learned that you don’t need to spend anything to be nice. Or to help people. I’ve done just as many free RAOK as ones that cost me money. Or similar amounts at least. Helping people with their bags, a suitcase or a pram is always appreciated. I’m yet to meet someone, so far, who doesn’t want help, or is offended at being asked.
Spending money is another nice way of committing a RAOK, and the effect of this will usually be wider felt and the memory will last longer for both of you. However, you don’t need to spend money to commit RAOK and make someone’s day. Or you don’t need to spend a lot at least.
Some of the most well received items have been the most thoughtful ones. Personalised items, items that fulfil a specific need that someone has, cards or gifts sent on an occasion that people may not always remember, like the anniversary of the death of a loved one for example.
This past year of RAOK has taught me to be kinder, more loving, appreciate people more, spend my money wiser, feel happier with myself and realise that I AM a good person, despite what anxiety may lead me to believe sometimes.
I’ve made lots of new friends this year, mostly online but then we’ve met up in real life, and there are so many good people out there. I feel blessed to be surrounded by lovely people, who put themselves out for others, and I’m happy to be a caring and generous person. Maybe I should slow down slightly on the spends on others… it has been a BIG year for those!
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