It feels good to offer up a helping hand

Random of acts of kindness EMN-150715-145952001
Random of acts of kindness EMN-150715-145952001

THOUGHTS OF A FRUITCAKE: By Carolyn Aldis

So, like a lot of people, I enjoy carrying out acts of random kindness (or ARK as I like to call them).

It’s an amazing feeling to know that something you did helped another person, even if it’s a small action

It’s been a bit of a hobby of mine to help people, but it started in earnest at the beginning of Lent this year.

Ever since I was young, I have given something up for Lent and this year decided to give up sugar, plus I only went on Facebook once a week (both of these prove to me the existence of God, because there is no way I could do either on my own).

On Twitter, there’s a group called “40acts”, that encouraged the public to do an “ARK” to strangers and then to tweet it with the 40acts hashtag.

I enjoyed finding new ways to give and to help people ... obviously, it was a bit weird at first– it can be awkward to make the first move and speak to someone you don’t know, but over time, it got easier.

Generally, most people accept help and, in my opinion, everyone could do with a little kindness in their lives.

I’ve tried to continue beyond Lent. Last week, I was able to help a family carry their shopping into their house ... I was rewarded by their little girl who picked me a flower to say thank you.

I was outside a local supermarket and saw a blind man having trouble negotiating the entrance ... I asked if he needed help and he gratefully took my arm as we went in.

I let someone behind me in a queue go in front of me ... he only had a couple of things and my trolley was overflowing with a week’s shopping, so it seemed only fair to let him go first.

In all these instances, there were others around that could have helped, but who didn’t – the blind man had a number of people watching him as he repeatedly hit his stick against the wall.

Having thought about it, I came up with some reasons why we don’t come to other people’s aid.

1. Shyness – we don’t want to embarrass ourselves speaking to people we don’t know.

2. Stubbornness – why should we help anyone else? Nobody helps us.

3. Selfishness – it’s hassle and impacts on our time.

My answer to these words is a fourth S:

4. Step up – We need to step up to the situation and play our part. We can feel all of the above feelings, but when we stop and offer a helping hand, it benefits us almost as much as the recipient.

It’s an amazing feeling to know that something you did helped another person, even if it’s a small action.

I know the times I have been helped have made me feel grateful… the woman who offered the use of her bathroom after my daughter was sick in our car; the couple that bought us a new trampoline when ours was burnt by garden invaders; my new neighbours who, when my four-year-old locked us out of the house, were kind enough to take us in, even though we hadn’t yet met.

The practice of ARK makes for a better world.

Previously...

No shame in mental health problems