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Thursday / May 26.
HomemilastwordThe Last Word: Deliberate Acts of Kindness

The Last Word: Deliberate Acts of Kindness

Have you ever had one of those random encounters that blows you away? In and of itself, it’s nothing significant – a stranger’s comment on the bus, in a café or at the supermarket. But for some reason, it leaves a mark.

My random encounter occurred at Campos in Newtown where I’d been going each day during a recent hospital stint. My daily ritual was, quite literally, an important part of my rehab. That 400 metre walk to the café was a great way to recover strength; the caffeine acted as a stimulant to open the airways (bizarre but true – my doctor told me coffee is a bronchodilator – oh yeeeeaah!) and getting out of the ward kept me sane.

Into my second week, one of the baristas introduced himself and we chatted. An everyday conversation in itself but he managed in a very deliberate way to convey that he’d noticed me (not just my coffee order) and cared about my health. It wasn’t forced or weird. It wasn’t over the top. Why did it make such an impact? I think it was because it was an example of, not so much a ‘random act’ but a ‘deliberate act’ of kindness.

Discussing this with one of my colleagues she told me about a man who noticed she was struggling with an overflowing shopping trolley (when she was heavily pregnant), took it from her and loaded her groceries into her car. That was 12 years ago and she still remembers the encounter. That’s a big impact for a small kindness.

It wasn’t forced or weird. It wasn’t over the top. Why did it make such an impact?

It’s great to hear stories about people who mow their sick neighbour’s lawn; or pay for the meal of a couple at the next table. Indeed, there are whole movements dedicated to ‘random acts of kindness’ or ‘paying it forward’, like the Suspended Coffee movement, which pays forward the purchase of a cup of coffee to be claimed by someone who can’t afford it.

I’ve come to the realisation that it is not just about noticing people; it is not just about caring about people; or even about being real – although all those things are necessary. I’m on board with the concept of random acts of kindness, but I’ve come to the realisation it has to be kindness that comes from being deliberate.

Will Smith says “if you’re not making someone else’s life better, you’re wasting your time”… So true! But, you, as an eye care professional, get to do that every day because it’s your work, right! The problem is that it can become routine and it’s easy to forget that the person sitting in the chair in front of you is a person not an eye condition.

Today, we have opportunities everywhere, whether it’s the person in your consulting room or others, to make a difference to their lives by showing ‘deliberate acts of kindness. It’s intentional and purposeful; it only takes a few moments but those moments cause a ripple that can, and do, change someone’s world and the world at large.

Now, get back to work.

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