Last week, I shared with you the first fully mixed and mastered chapter from the forthcoming audiobook version of The Best Advice So Far. This past Friday, my best friend Dib came over to record the Foreword, which she wrote. And once that’s edited, I should have no more to do before giving wings to a project that’s taken just about 120 hours to complete.
Then … it’s into the next book. (:: deep breathe ::)
For now, I’m still reeling (and celebrating!). With brain-buzz still in effect, I almost decided to skip posting this week. But instead, I thought I’d share one more short audio chapter with you. It’s one of my favorites, “Chapter 10: Kindness.“
You can listen to “Chapter 10: Kindness” by clicking the audio link below. (The full text follows underneath.)
And again … if you haven’t yet got your summer reading list lined up, I invite you to pick up a copy of either the print version of Kindle version at Amazon.
In the early 1990s, the term “Random Acts of Kindness” was all the rage when a book by the same name was released. Everyone was abuzz about it, as if this were the first time anyone had thought to be nice to anyone and — gasp! — for no apparent reason! As I recall, the challenge was also to try to remain anonymous, so that you weren’t doing it just for the rush of being thanked.
I considered myself a pretty nice guy, but even I was inspired. I was just thinking about it more, I guess. Looking for opportunities to jump on the RAK bandwagon. I remember being at an amusement park, in a line for food behind two teenage girls. They were trying to figure out how both of them could eat on four dollars and change — no mean feat at amusement park prices. I had a little extra money, so I pulled out a ten, folded it until it fit in my palm, and tapped one of the girls on the shoulder. “Here,” I said, holding out my downturned fist. She looked at me as if I were going to drop a scorpion in her hand. I flicked the folded bill into my fingertips like a magic trick and added, “Get something to eat.” They took it, still a little spooked. I walked away (it was the closest I could come to remaining anonymous under the circumstances). As I was leaving, I heard them excitedly chattering about what they could now eat. It felt good.
Some years later, Random Acts of Kindness got a facelift with the “Pay It Forward” movement. Another book was behind the push, followed by a movie where we got to see the creepy “I see dead people” kid in a less creepy role. Unless you count ending the movie with the kid getting shot in a Random Act of Violence as creepy. No one could blame you.
The twist with Paying It Forward was that you were supposed to do the nice thing with the understanding that the next person had to do something nice for someone else, and so on and so on.
Within a year, in 2001, the Twin Towers were attacked. It rocked America to the core. And, once again, people remembered to be kind to one another. Neighbors who hadn’t ever introduced themselves stood side by side along streets, holding candles and talking about things that mattered.
That was all so long ago. Ah, the droll days of yesteryear, when kindness was cool.
Hasn’t it always been cool? Isn’t it still kind of cool?
THE BEST ADVICE SO FAR: Kindness still works.
We get in this mindset that, if Oprah is talking about it, we just have to try it. But next month, it will be the new no-diet-no-exercise weight-loss pill. Or taking your dog to some guy who whispers to it.
But kindness is not a fad. It’s a choice. It’s a mindset. It’s a lifestyle.
“Yes,” you protest, “but all the good acts of kindness, like paying for the person behind you in the drive-thru or at the toll booth, have been done to death.”
And I reply with a hearty, “So?” Can kindness really be overdone? I’ve heard of killing someone with kindness, but I hadn’t considered it an actual threat.
I still try to make Random Acts of Kindness a regular practice. It is not a duty, mind you. It’s fun. I like it. It energizes me.
So, I’m driving through at the local coffee shop, and I say, “I’m feeling a random act of kindness right now. Please ring in the order of the person behind me along with mine.” The teller smiles and is perhaps inspired to look for her own opportunities. But for now, I share the fun of the experience at hand by letting her deliver the news. And I can assure you that whoever gets to the window next is not thinking, “Oh brother. That is so 1995.” I love to do this and then just imagine the response. As I play it out, the woman has had a long, hard day and felt unappreciated. She gets the news that her coffee is on the house, courtesy of a stranger. She smiles broadly and is reminded of what is right with the world instead of wrong. She puts on her radio and, as luck would have it, her favorite song from her youth is just starting to play.
Hey, it could happen. The point is, I enjoy the possibilities. It causes me to have a brighter outlook and an impish sort of Christmas spirit all year long.
Chad, who attended Penn State, started an organization called The Clown Nose Club. (Don’t wince; it has nothing to do with actual clowns.) Their philosophy and mission are written specifically, but the For Dummies version goes something like this: “to go out of your way to let people know they matter.” That’s it? That’s the stated goal of a whole club? Yes. Yes, it is. And you would not believe the response. No sooner had this club started than stories were hitting the newspaper, and radio shows were asking my friend to talk about it to their listeners. In its fledgling months in existence, the club drew more than 80 members.
They say that bad news sells. I’m here to tell you that good news and happiness sell, too. People can’t get enough of a good thing. Kindness doesn’t go out of style. Truth is, kindness not only helps others, it improves your own outlook on life. And that just makes the world a better place.