For my 60th birthday as a surprise to me, my sister asked my friends to perform a random act of kindness, and then let me know what they had done by e-mail. When the messages started coming in, I was blown away by the idea, and the creative and heartwarming ways my friends chose to bless others. Here are some of their actions:
• I smiled and said hello to strangers on the road, their responses amazed me. They responded and smiled back.
• I brought flowers from my garden to my colleagues at work.
• I said prayers for strangers, street performers and homeless people I passed by.
• I paid a guy's bus fare.
• I moved trashcans out of the way after they had been emptied and tossed by sanitation workers.
• One of my friend's daughters had mentioned how sad she always was when it came time for her deceased mother's birthday. I decided to send them each a card on her birthday with a note telling them about some joyful fun things their mother had done and how she would very much like them to be happy and not so sad.

To know that these and many more random acts of kindness were being done all around the world (I have many friends), gave me greater joy than any physical gift would have. Just the few words they shared created vignettes of love and care, joy, surprise, delight, and sometimes relief, on the part of the recipients.

Some of the people who wrote to me to tell of their random acts of kindness weren't even friends of mine! One of my sisters told her friends about the birthday idea and they joined in. The ripples spread far and wide. I was awed at the power of one person's act of love, and how it can change the world.

Diane Emerson, formerly of St. Paul, now shares kindness on Vashon Island, Wash.

What are easy Random Acts of Kindness that anyone could do?
Leave a coin or two tucked away in a place a child might find it: a playground, park, etc.
2. Let the bus driver know you are paying for an extra fare, their choice.
3. Leave a dollar bill in a library book.
4. Leave a comforting note in a doctor's waiting room magazine - appropriate for the patient or the caregiver.
5. Buy a takeaway meal and give it to a homeless person.
6. Pick up trash or tidy the garden at a local park or traffic circle.
7. Buy a cup of coffee for the baristas to give to someone.
8. Cut flowers from your garden and bring them in to your favorite local business or the police station/fire station.

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