Today I spent $35.50 on a coffee, and I felt super awesome about it.
Well, okay, I actually spent $5.50 on a coffee (which is still a lot, I know, but it was one of those fancy, holiday flavored lattes with all the add-ons… #treatyourself). I bought it on my lunch break at a restaurant near my office and went to go enjoy the amazing weather out on their patio.
While I sat there watching the business people and tourists rush up and down the street, grabbing lunch between meetings or hustling to buy last minute Christmas gifts, I continued to be drawn to an elderly man sitting on a bench nearby. He was bundled up in winter clothes – hat, scarf, thick jacket – despite it being a pretty warm day today (thanks, Arizona winter). He had a few scattered belongings with him, and he held a cardboard sign on his lap that read: “Hungry and homeless. Food, or anything, helps.” It had a drawing of a sailboat and a sun. It looked like something I would have drawn when I was in kindergarten.
His presence was electric. I kept seeing him out of the corner of my eye, even though he was pretty far away from me. I couldn’t stop watching him sitting there quietly, as all those people passed by without a single acknowledgment. I looked at my fancy, holiday-flavored latte with all the add-ons and realized I didn’t want it anymore. I went back into the restaurant and bought a $15 gift card to give to the man with the sailboat sign.
As I walked over to give him the gift card, he smiled up at me. Thanking me, he wished me a merry Christmas, and I went on my way… until a few seconds later, when another man approached me, asking if I’d give him some money for food, too. So, man #2 and I went into the restaurant together and chatted for a few minutes while we waited in line to purchase a second $15 gift card.
I then went on my way, $35.50 later. I forgot my fancy latte on the counter sometime during that exchange. I think I took two or three sips of the whole thing.
It’s easy to forget how easy it can be to help others. Sometimes, I feel like there’s so much need in the world it becomes overwhelming, to the point where I’m paralyzed to take any action at all. But really, all you have to do is look around you. There are people in your community – here, now, today – who need your help. Especially during the holiday season, when our society becomes instantly more giving and charitable, we can all take action to help make the world a little bit kinder. A tiny bit happier. A little bit more full of love.
Because when we give our kindness away, when we put that energy out into the universe, it will come back to us. In The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer writes: “The universe responds in kind to what you elect to radiate outward. If you say with kindness in your voice and in your heart, ‘How may I serve you?’ The universe’s response will be, ‘How may I serve you as well?’” It’s a powerful reminder to selflessly give and be delighted with what shows up for you down the road.
So I challenge you: what can you do over the next week to extend your kindness to the world? Maybe it’s picking up litter at a park near your house, or paying for a stranger’s coffee in line, or volunteering at a homeless shelter for a couple of hours. Maybe it’s picking up the phone and calling that person who you need to apologize to. Maybe it’s showing more kindness to your own self by forgiving yourself for whatever it is you’ve been holding on to, or treating yourself to a fancy, holiday-flavored latte, if that’s what you need. If that’s what will bring more joy to the world.
The holidays light something up in us. There’s an energy in the air, and I saw it today in that man. I felt it within me as I walked away from that restaurant, feeling lighter and more free. How can we collectively ride that wave of kindness and of love? What can you do today, tomorrow, this week, to give what you’ve got? Because the world needs more of that. You have the power to make big change. You’ve just got to start somewhere.
Love over everything ❤