What the world needs now…

…is love, sweet love and let’s throw in some kindness, dammit!

Simple-minded, idealistic, naïve? Probably, but I don’t care. The last half of 2012 was knotted with acts of horrific violence, political stupidity and other depressing events. Throw in a suffocating sinus infection, a seriously ill relative, various personal woes and some raging hormones, and my usual optimism was sorely tested.Image

But something very special happened after the unthinkable tragedy in Connecticut. One of my favorite news personalities, Ann Curry, innocently sparked a movement of simple, healing kindness on Twitter. The hashtag featured by most participants was #26acts in honor of the 26 people that lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

To help mend our hearts, Curry encouraged people to go out and commit 26 random acts of kindness and report back. The response was awe-inspiring with people everywhere sharing actions as simple as lending an ear to a friend in need, to feeding someone’s parking meter, to financially generous gifts such as paying off Christmas layaway accounts and more. Here are just a few samples I’ve culled from the #26acts search…

“Gave some cupcakes to a couple of garbage men #26acts #feelingood

“Helped an older gentleman who was having difficulty reading food labels while grocery shopping #26Acts #DigRespect

#26Acts for Jan – #8 Helped a lady find her car in the Walmart parking lot. She was very lost!”

“my friend and i had no cash on hand and it was freezing. cab driver gave us a ride for free. promised we’d pay it forward #26acts

While I love the notion, I admit I’m uncomfortable with tooting one’s own horn. I feel it takes away from the beautiful anonymity of a simple, thoughtful act to tell everyone what you did, but Ann recognized that sentiment and urged people to share in order to inspire others.

Either way, the story reminded me of several acts throughout the years that were bestowed upon me and reinforced how good people really are. There was a few Christmases ago when I still owned a struggling art gallery and one of my artists walked in dressed as Santa. She handed me a card and wished us a Merry Christmas. After she left I opened it and found $250 in cash. My daughter asked why I was crying. This holiday season, we had snow and I went out to shovel my sidewalk only to discover it had already been cleared. I saw footsteps leading to my neighbor’s house and thanked her for the kindness, but she said it wasn’t her – that her walk was shoveled too. We looked and saw that someone had thoroughly shoveled the entire block.

Thanks to Curry’s idea I committed a few of my own random acts recently and she was right – each one helped warm my heart where the latest bleak headline had chilled it. It’s not a new notion to implore everyone to carry their holiday spirit throughout the year, but this is a movement that should know no season. The above samples all occurred in recent days and I think they’ll continue on.

As our country continues to square off over gun rights, taxes, or who should go to the Super Bowl (Denver, of course), I think we can all agree that being kind to one another is a human necessity.

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One of my daughter’s random acts last year. It contained everything but the kitchen sink.

Please share any random acts of kindness you were on the receiving end of that brightened your day or changed your life, be it yesterday or a decade ago. It’s amazing how someone’s thoughtfulness can stay with us forever. Then go and pay that blessing forward.

Happy New Year, my friends.

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