If you want others to be happy, practise compassion. If you want to be happy, practise compassion.
A survivor of September 11th who was blown away by the generosity of strangers helping others, set up an organisation called “Pay it Forward 9/11”. He is asking Australians to follow his lead by showing Three Random Acts of Kindness this Friday 11 September on the 19th anniversary. Let’s create a culture of kindness so that kindness becomes the norm in our society.
When American Air Traffic Control was shut down on September 11 2001, following the deadly hijacking of planes across parts of America, 38 transatlantic aircraft were redirected to the tiny airport of Gander on the Canadian island of Newfoundland.
More than 6000 scared and confused passengers from around the world landed unannounced in a small town with a population of 10,000. Texas man Kevin Tuerff was one of them. He said that every single person in Gander freely expressed compassion. They didn’t hesitate in helping strangers who needed basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter for five days.
After Kevin returned home to Texas, he closed his office and gave his staff $100 to do an “act of kindness,” asking that the recipient “pay it forward” by doing the same. Since then every year, on September 11th, he calls for people to join his special pledge.
Some Random Acts of Kindness
It is often the smallest acts which have the biggest impact and it can start with a smile.
- Set yourself a goal to smile at everyone you see.
- Give someone right of way in the traffic
- Hold a door open for someone
- Give flowers from your garden
- Write a positive email
- Give up your seat on public transport
- Tell people how much you care
- Give up your parking space
- Pay for coffee of those waiting in line
After six months of fighting the pandemic, the 19th annual Pay it Forward 9/11 campaign offers a unique way to bring light to dark times. This year they are encouraging people to focus their actions on helping healthcare frontline workers, essential workers, and those who work in the arts. If you want some suggestions of how you can help read more at Pay it Forward 9/11 organisation.
Why Should We Practise Random Acts of Kindness?
- When you do good you feel good
- It’s a way you can live a better life
- It can change a person’s life or at least their day
- It can spread happiness and give you a warm fuzzy feeling
- Your own problems will seem less severe when you help others
Paying It Forward
My first direct experience with the act of “pay it forward” came when I was in the town of Tamworth in NSW for their annual country music festival. As the town has a population of around 42,000, I was impressed at how the townspeople had come together to organise thousands of extra visitors and musical events happening all over town.
Each morning we had free newspapers and programs delivered to our caravan door by young girls who told us what was happening each day. As we showered in facilities provided by local sporting organisations, there were volunteers cooking breakfast for us and musicians entertaining us. Throughout the town parking was free during the two-week event.
But the real surprise came when I went to a laundry to do my washing. As I approached a washing machine, a woman stuck an envelope on my machine which contained coins and a smiley message which read “I am paying for your laundry today. Please pay it forward.”
I was quite overcome with emotion as I had not been expecting such a kind and thoughtful gesture. I quickly found an opportunity where I too could pay it forward in a local pub where I was able to buy a stranger a drink.
The strangers in Tamworth changed my life by giving me new faith in humanity. Sometimes people feel powerless to help. Paying it forward makes us more aware of how much good we can do. Practising random acts of kindness not only helps others but will also benefit your health and well-being.