Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Developing the Intention to Help

--by hirenbhinde, posted Apr 26, 2010

Last week, I met a friend who suggested that I do an act of kindness every week and then share the story with him through email.    Of course, like the most of us, I have my own share of helping people and hence I thought this "simple" suggestion would be an easy weekly task.  But I was in for a surprise.  

I had made a promise to myself that I wouldn't involve giving a materialistic gift. My friend had said: "It should touch you deeply, it should have a story; otherwise, it's just a material experience".   That struck a chord with me, so I decided to step-it up  :) and looked forward to "doing" the act of kindness.

I realized in the next 48 hours that "doing" an act of kindness, an intentional act of kindness, might be simple but letting it happen naturally wasn't as simple. 

I found myself giving away my precious afternoon tea-bags to a colleague as since I knew he wouldn't go and buy them himself from the speciality store.  I gifted a pen set to a friend of mine who got a job in my company after a year long battle. I saw the recipients were touched but I had this inner voice saying, "Haha ... that wasn't all that fulfilling ... it was still a materialistic gift."

At about 6 pm on Saturday evening, I was sitting outside a Starbucks waiting for my wife and other friends to join. The weather was beautiful, slightly cloudy with a gentle breeze; it was kind of refreshing after an unending long hot days in San Diego.   Suddenly, the Starbucks door opened and out came a young woman carrying a big trash bin and letting out a big sigh while wiping the sweat on her forehead:  "Ohhh my Goddd!  Its crazy in there!  We are so busy."  I just sat there and gave the usual generic smile that we're taught to give.  Then I thought this could be my chance to help -- help with the trash, buy her a coffee or a muffin of a frap, or just say, "We appreciate all the hard work you do."   But I didn't do anything - I just sat there.  

After a few seconds she left, as I lamented my missed opportunity.   I then got up and searched for her following the path where she might have gone but couldn't find her.

By that evening, I had decided that perhaps like everyone else, I was yet another cog in the corporate wheel with no natural instinct to help. I knew I had the capacity to help but felt sad that it wasn't a natural instinct. 

On Sunday night, I got a call from my friend who needed some sleeping bags etc. from my car. I took the elevator to the parking  garage when the door opened a young pregnant woman and her mother were standing there with loads of luggage and bags outside the elevator.  Immediately, I asked the lady to hold the elevator door open as I started helping them load their luggage into the elevator.  She insisted that it wouldn't be necessary as her husband and father were coming with more stuff and they could do it but I just smiled and asked them to take it easy and within minutes it was all in the elevator.   The young woman said she was just back from her baby-shower, so I told her that I wished their family a beautiful baby with a safe delivery.  And I casually walked away.

As I was taking the sleeping bags out of the trunk of my car, I realized what had happened. I had been kind and helped someone without actually deciding to do so. It happened at the spur of the moment -- naturally and beautifully. It wasn't dramatic, but it was simple and ordinary and that brought a smile to my face.

When I look back on the Starbucks episode and the elevator incident, I realize that intending to help and helping naturally do go hand in hand. It is because of my intention to help or be kind or just spread goodness over the past few days was becoming stronger, that this act just happened.   Had I not held the intention to be of service, I probably would have just smiled at the ladies and walked away.

Holding the intention to help is the first step to become a natural giver.  Initially, I was frowning over the first step but now I see the power of a strong thought.

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Readers Comments

sonrisa wrote: Thanks so much for honestly and openly sharing your experience. I'm sure many of us have been in a position of helping and missed the opportunity while we spent time thinking :) and it's wonderful to hear how you've reconciled the bridge from intention to action in how it naturally unfolded at the elevator that day.
Diana wrote: Hirenbhinde, i just wanted to say thank you for posting your story. I have pretty severe social anxiety disorder and so i have a very hard time talking to people in person, even to offer help or a compliment. I know how you felt after the starbucks incident and i'm happy that you had the chance to help someone else and feel a little better about it. If it means anything, reading your story has helped me too: knowing there are people out there who are kind and want to help others makes it easier and less frightening for me to open up and speak to strangers. If i'm able to go out and do something for someone who needs it or share a kind word this week you will have had a hand in making that possible. Thank you again for sharing your story, -diana
Peacemaker2 wrote: I suggest in my "circle of empowerment" group for having clarity of what is one's highest desire, and understanding what ways one can express that desire, given our commitments. We can each share our time, our talent, our treasure to the benefit of another, with no strings attached nor expectations of return.

Each day my wife and i walk our dog around a mile through the nieghborhood, and when we see litter we pick it up adding to an extra trash bag we bring with us. It's our "mile of community care". We both are pleased by keeping our neighborhood cleaned up, and we've done that for many years. We often receive appreciation from neighbors, extra reward on top of what we gain by our commitment.
myfbil wrote: Thank you for sharing. What a beautiful way to live life. I will intend to do good for others, other than in a materialistic way.

Have a sunshine day! :)
Kaviraj wrote: Thanks a lot for sharing your experience with us. Developing an intention to help some one is the first step to start an act of kindness. Keep the habit of doing good deeds to make the highly materialistic world worth living.
solly wrote: My name is solly am living in nigerian i need a person that god as bless, to plz help me. May god bless u more and more.
Rebecca wrote: Beautiful! Thank you for sharing this story it was uplifting :) i am certain that these women will remember this act and pass it forward in their own lives.
twiceblessed wrote: Ain't that the truth?! Just being aware that you want to serve, opens you up to so many possibilities. And then, without even knowing, almost everything turn into an opportunity to be helpful. Thanks for sharing your inspiration!
monkeyinpajamas wrote: Thank you. What a beautiful beautiful story :-)
Bluebell wrote: Thanks for sharing your story, I am sure the power of intention will give you loads of opportunities to put in practice you kindness. Love and Light and a Thousand Smiles, Bluebell

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