Today, something happened that took me by surprise. On my way to my parents’ house, I reached a toll booth. Pulling up to the booth with my window down, I began to reach my hand out to give the woman $1.50 in change. My hand froze in midair when she said, “You’re all set, the gentleman ahead of you paid your toll and said happy Thanksgiving.”
Around this time of year, we’re constantly thinking of our own problems. Because, yes, the holiday season is a stressful time. We have our in-laws and cooking and shopping for gifts to thank for that.
However, the guy at the toll booth took a second to think of me, instead of himself. He took a second to help me out. If we all took some time to think about how small, random acts of kindness could take just a little stress off someone else's shoulders, maybe karma would come for us in a good way.
What that man did for me at the toll booth wasn’t a big deal. Sure, he sacrificed $1.50 for a random stranger. But it was a small, seemingly insignificant act of kindness that made a big impact on me.
It got me thinking. What if performing small acts of kindness is a different way to relieve Thanksgiving and holiday season stress? What the guy at the toll booth did didn't only make me feel good, it made me want to pay for someone else at the next toll. It made me want to pay it forward. It started a chain reaction of kindness.
When I got home I was inspired to think about what examples of small acts of kindness could be. Turns out, Oprah wrote a list of 35 “little acts of kindness.” She says, "One small, thoughtful gesture can make someone else's day,” and she's right. That gesture totally made my day. You can check that list out here, at Oprah.com.
This season, start a chain reaction of kindness. It can start with something as small as clearing someone else's plate from the Thanksgiving table, as big as taking old clothes to a clothing drive or homeless shelter, or as simple as paying the toll for the person behind you. Not only will it make you feel good, but it will make other people feel good as well. I think that's a pretty amazing way to relieve stress.