Well this year I personally have been pondering the many ways to which we could all reach out to strangers, spread kindness and a do more good deeds throughout our awe-inspiring home New York City.
Will this be a challenge? To promote more acts of kindness throughout the lively, yet often unforgiving streets of NYC?
On the contrary, I truly believe we live in a place that couldn’t be more in need of such a challenge – not to mention a city that presents many different opportunities for easy-to-do kind favors.
One inspiring story I discovered from CBS NY on December 6th was about a waiter at a NYC restaurant who received a generous tip from a stranger ($3,500 to be exact).
The mysterious and generous man who tipped him had promised a generous tip – but of course the pleasantly surprised waiter had no idea HOW generous. (It was also said that he even paid for another table’s meal and sent a bottle of champagne elsewhere too). The man credited – and signed the bill under – “Tips For Jesus” for his generosity.
This kind-act inspired the waiter himself to pay for a bunch of random people’s drinks one night not long after.
There have also been many reports about Starbucks’ generosity campaign “Pay It Forward”, where customers would offer to pay for (or pay a percentage of) another person (or persons) coffees. This popular trend caught on quickly and spread throughout America.
Back in July, the Doers Network Founders, Jesse Speer and Josh Goolcharan published a Do Gooder series in which they promote, “If You See Something, Do Something,” involving random act of kindness, (and even shared the challenges of these acts).
In an effort to raise awareness and spread generosity, they posted a sign in Union Square offering “Free Favors”.
This project was actually a surprising challenge as so many people found it hard to put faith in their sincerity.
What does that say about chivalry and faith in humanity? I have hope that if we all truly started showing more generosity and warmth we may see a lot of positive changes in the future, and perhaps even some pay-it-forward acts. And why not start with NYC?
I also discovered a Facebook page Random acts of Kindness NYC, where stories are collected and inspiring ideas can be found and shared with fellow New-Yorkers.
Here are some thoughts that I myself began working on in a mission to spread a little hospitality throughout NYC (and beyond) during 2014…
Squash the litterbug with a simple “squat and dispose” action – Even if it’s not your litter, picking up some of the trash you see can make a difference in a city where rubbish takes up an unhealthy amount of residence.
Stand “up” for kindness, Give up the Seat – whether for a pregnant lady, a child, someone elderly, injured or even just because, this is a great way to influence charitable manners. (And make someone’s day just a bit more comfortable.)
Give Change, Promote Change – I know when I see people reaching in their pockets I’m even more motivated to also. Especially since I started this list of goals I wanted to try, I’ve been keeping my spare change (which a lot of us usually keep in a jar or drawer somewhere) in my purse just for the sole purpose to give to people in need. I also spare dollar bills, etc. when I can!
I also always try to give to musicians and street performers but I especially want to give at least a little of whatever I can to homeless or someone in need every time. I think everyone can spare a little spare change, and who knows it may motivate others to dig in their own pockets too!
Be Brave and Be Buff – help with a little heavy-lifting! You see someone (whether elder or otherwise) trying to lug heavy carts, bags or baby carriages, I feel like it is the honorable thing to do to help them.
I know I’ve seen mothers struggle with pulling their bags and baby carriages up and down subway steps and in and out of subway carts, they could use another arm to help (even if it means you may have to wait that extra 6 minutes to catch the next train)!
Dazzle with a Smile (even if you’re not posing for a selfie) – A smile goes a long way! Smile at strangers, overworked waiters, homeless folks, those fellow subway-riders who keep their head to the ground and look like they’ve had a rough day, anyone! Sure some may think you’re creepy sometimes but more often than not they will appreciate the small gesture of hospitality.
Pay a Compliment – I feel like I am always on the subway around people who I admire “from a distance”. Recently, I decided to pull my headphones off real fast to pay a woman a compliment on her boots. She was thankful and it even sparked up a conversation that made the subway ride a little more friendly and fun, and a little less mindless and typical.
Metrocard Gift Card – It may seem somewhat trivial but even if you have the unlimited ride (or even $5 dollars left on your card to give), consider putting a few bucks in a metrocard to give to someone you think could use it; strangers of course, for friends that would make a nice gift card for a special occasion!
Pay-it-Forward in Coffee (even if it’s not at Starbucks) – buying a cup? Wherever it may be it would be nice to buy also for someone else in line behind you if you can. I mean a great deal of the NYC population is more than willing to spend 4 or 5 bucks on a latte, why not spend an extra few to make someone else smile?
Gift Card Giveaway for the Homeless – I already made it a goal for myself to stop somewhere and get a gift card at a common-known cafe or fast food place at least once a month and put a decent amount on it to give to someone in need in the city. I think that’s a good start! And you can feel confident that it’s going towards feeding someone hungry and in need.
Beer or Drink Gifting (Anonymous Optional) – buy a stranger (or strangers) a drink at a bar sometime. That always puts people in a great mood (and even promotes conversations with strangers). Anonymous might make it more interesting too!
Free Cycle – When I first moved to Williamsburg I once noticed a box on the sidewalk with the words “Free Books!” written on it. I not only got the gift of a very interesting read for free, but I definitely had a “huh, I really love where I’m living” moment.
Much like the website Free Cycle, giving used items away is rarely a burden to you so why not help someone else out? You may not need it or use it anymore but you can bet your ass someone else does somewhere. Donate!
And a few more that need no explanation…
– Give up your cab for someone
– Hold more doors open
– Give weather warnings or train delay warnings to others
– Take off your headphones for musicians playing in public
– Tip kindly
– Go out of your way to return lost items to its owners
– Give away some scarves, gloves or jackets during the cold season
– Tell more jokes to strangers (even if they’re not that funny)
– “How is your day going” goes a long way!
So this year I am going to try to uphold to these things as much as I can. These are deeds anyone can do no matter the personality type or financial rank. Why the hell not right? Cheers to 2014, and a bit more spreadable compassion.