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Finding Purpose and Fulfillment Through Random Acts of Kindness

September 12, 2010

Finding Purpose and Fulfillment through Random Acts of Kindness

A number of years ago, when I was living in Santa Barbara, people started talking about performing random acts of kindness. It seemed, after a few weeks, that I heard something about this almost everywhere I went. It was as if it had become a slogan. I soon discovered the book by the same title, edited and published by Conari Press. There was a version for children, too, called Kids’ Random Acts of Kindness.

The book is filled with short stories of individuals who have been in situations where someone has reached out to them either with or without their awareness, doing sometimes small and sometimes large things, simply out of the kindness of their hearts. I remember one story in which a woman moved into a new home and found her garden tended, week after week, without knowing who the mystery gardener was. Eventually she caught her elderly neighbor in the act of pruning her roses. It was something he had done for the previous owner, out of his love of gardens, and continued to do for her as a gift.

There were stories of people who had been helped out in moments of financial crisis or emotional vulnerability, or who’d had someone come to their assistance when their car had broken down. Each story was moving and unique.

Many of us want to make a difference in this world, yet we don’t know where to begin or what to do. The word “purpose” may be something we’ve never pondered, or something that seems a like a distant destination. “How do I get from here to there?” some may wonder.

We can always make a difference, even if we don’t yet know what our purpose is, through simple and random acts of kindness. The act needn’t be big to make a big impact on someone’s life.

  • Help an older person into the grocery store.
  • Pick up a neighbor’s dry cleaning on your way home from work.
  • Offer to babysit kids in your religious community.
  • Buy a sandwich for one who is hungry.

If you begin to look for kind acts you can perform, you will discover that opportunity lies everywhere around you.

Participating in random kind acts may in and of itself become your purpose. Indeed, there are organizations and websites dedicated to just that. It also may come to pass that while performing an act of kindness, your purpose becomes suddenly evident. Regardless, by giving of your kind heart, you are making the world a better place, and that will help you to feel fulfilled, and give you a sense of what it means to flourish.

Robin Damsky

Robin Damsky is the rabbi of West Suburban Temple Har Zion in Oak Park, Illinois, and co-author of Find-Fulfill-Flourish: Discover Your Purpose with LifePath GPS – a book, tool kit, and workshop series focused on guiding people toward more meaningful and fulfilling lives.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. David K. permalink
    September 12, 2010 8:43 am

    My only complaint with the phrase “Commit random acts of kindness” is the word “random.” I know that what is meant, is “unexpected,” “universal,” “beyond the customary scope of beneficiaries and acts,” etc., but it makes it sound like one should do kindness when one haphazardly happens to notice a need, or to act kindly only some of the time (depending on the “toss of a coin” to assure randomness).

    As you point out, “If you begin to look for kind acts you can perform, you will discover that opportunity lies everywhere around you.”

    Thus, I humbly propose a more proactive and deliberate mission statement- something like: “Commit, plan and seek to do deliberate acts of kindness.”

    Mazal tov on the book, and thanks for this blog that promises to bring insight and inspiration to subscribers’ email boxes regularly.

    Happy 5771- may it be filled with blessings, and that we appreciate all of them.

    David

    • September 12, 2010 9:28 am

      David, thanks for your insights. I agree with you about the use of the word “random.” They really are not random but spontaneous. And the opportunities are all around us, as you say.

      I’m glad you are enjoying the blog and finding it insightful.

      Wishing you the best for the New Year!

      • September 12, 2010 2:00 pm

        David,

        Thanks for your insights and your blessings. Perhaps the word “random” could be seen in light of the idea that these acts may or may not be planned, and may or may not follow any delineated structure. Rather, that one is simply open to looking where he or she might serve in any given moment, and fulfilling the random opportunity that presents itself.

        Shana tovah to you as well.
        Robin Damsky

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  1. Embracing a purpose – Ready, Fire, Aim « Find – Fulfill – Flourish

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