On a sunny Sunday afternoon, we went into a little bakery in town and chose our pastries from the case. The five of us sat down at a small table and settled in with a little more excitement than the usual donut and hot chocolate warrant. We had decided to spend a small bit of our afternoon doing something that we hadn’t done before: a “random act of kindness” for some patrons of the shop.
We talked to the girls in the car before we went inside and explained that we were going to pay for other people’s food, too, just to surprise them and give them something to smile about. They were confused as to the logistics of the mission, but we placed heavy emphasis on how we would be super secret smile makers, and the girls were ready to go. We had never done this before and we didn’t know what to expect, and let me tell you, it was awesome.
The girl behind the counter was surprised as we clumsily told her what we wanted to do, but she quickly and happily agreed and we took our food and sat nearby. We didn’t want people to know that we were paying for their order, but we did want the girls to be able to see the reactions of the people as they were told their payment was already taken care of. The first couple must have overheard our conversation with the cashier and they came over to say thank you, which was really weird, but was also my oldest daughter’s “favorite reaction,” so I’m glad that occurred.
We weren’t close enough to the counter to hear everything said, but even before the next customer came into the shop, we could hear the chatter of the workers behind the counter. It seemed they were sharing their own stories of kind gestures with each other and they were excited about what was happening. The next customer came walking through the doors and the girls, who were facing the door and front counter started to get excited. This next guy could not possibly have had a more encouraging response. He was loud and excited and couldn’t fathom what was happening. He was asking all kinds of why and what questions and was in disbelief–seriously, he reacted like he’d just won the lottery. “That is just cool, just too cool,” he repeated. He left the shop, but a few minutes later, he was back. Still full of excitement, he said he wanted to pay for the next person. It was pretty magical.
Others came in and we overheard various responses of delight here and there while we talked and goofed around at our table. A few times, the girls started pointing “here’s the next one, they’re going to be so surprised” when someone came in. We had to hush them quick and they loved the secretive component to what we were doing. It was really special and exciting to be part of the joy in the air.
Eventually we headed home with such a feeling of excitement and fulfillment. My husband and I simultaneously expressed our interest in making the mission a regular occurrence. As far as the kids are concerned, I think it was a really good exercise for them to see the direct and immediate impact we can make on others with just a small gesture of kindness. It’s hard to explain to little children that a smile or kind word can change someone’s day, but when they can see it in practice, there’s a better chance of it sinking in, don’t you think?
How do you teach your children to bring a little more joy into the world? Do you have an awesome story of bringing joy into someone else’s life that you’d like to share?
‘The Best Part’ by Folgers is an online community that’s dedicated to brightening your day—every day. How? By spreading optimism, one share at a time. The Best Part posts inspirational stories, encouraging quotes, good news and other upbeat items on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—and encourages fans and followers to share that optimism with their friends. Because when optimism is shared, it grows, making an even more positive impact on our world. Check out what others are sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.