In the last days of every April, we search for a new and easy way to make a hanging basket out of the stuff lying around the house. We also make a list of five to 10 local friends and neighbors who might love or need a joyful surprise. As we are planning and preparing, we ask our girls how they think friends will feel when they see their May Day baskets. This opportunity to think of the impact of our actions on another person’s feelings is a great way to foster empathy.
Early in the morning on May Day (May 1st), we fill the baskets with spring flowers and leave one on each friend’s doorstep. We are quite sneaky in our deliveries, careful not to be detected.
Although I have no doubt our recipients know who to credit, the kids believe that they have no idea. That is, quite possibly, the best part of the whole endeavor: Not only is there just something marvelous to kids about the chance to sneak, but there is also real value in remaining anonymous. The 14th Dalai Lama is credited with saying, “When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”
And, there is great research to show us that even kids under 2 feel happiness when they give to others.
In today’s world, I know many of us could use a greater sense of inner happiness and peace. So, cheers to finding ways to pay it forward with our young ones! Here are a few of our easy favorite random acts of kindness, you can try any time of year.
- Turn rocks or acorns into smiles you can spread around your neighborhood.
- Grab some gloves and a trash bag and pick up some litter early in the morning, when there are few people in your local park.
- Fill the bird feeder or make your own, then sit and watch the birds (or the squirrels, in our case) benefit from your efforts.
- Spend the afternoon making a small nature display, then leave it so other park goers can see, delight in and even add to it.