We know that doing a favor for someone else makes us feel good. For some of us it even makes us feel morally superior, self righteous. When I notice that my neighbor’s garbage bin is sitting on the curb for a couple of days, indicating she is out of town, I bring it up to her house for her. Doing so gives me a boost up the mood scale of a few points. But how often do we consider the reverse? That we are the recipient of favors being done for us all the time?
Sometimes, when we least expect it, we have been the beneficiaries of the kindness of strangers–your wallet was returned, someone gave up a seat for you in the movie theater, someone returned your “lost child” or lost pet to you. Perhaps someone let you in line ahead of them because you had fewer groceries, someone helped you jump your car battery, opened the door for you, or gave you directions when you couldn’t find your way. You’ve been waiting to enter a busy street and a driver slow down to wave you in ahead of him. When I am on a bicycling trip and I stop to check the map, other cyclists stop to ask, “Are you OK? Do you need help?” I have been given food, water, maps, and directions. Strangers on bicycles have put the chain back on the sprockets of my bike; others have fixed a flat tire for me. I can recall three occasions when a stranger in a car or truck spotted me beside the road, unable to goany further, put my bike in their vehicle, and drove me home.,
If we can stop and take note of all these small events, we soon see that we live in a benevolent world where the kindness of strangers flows around us like the wind. When have you been the beneficiary of the kindness of strangers recently?