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Monday Mom challenge: Make a stranger's day

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Lots of joy little cost

You may be surprised at how bringing joy to a stranger will, in turn, bring you joy. Often, when I am out and about in the late afternoon, I zip through the drive-through of a local donut franchise for coffee. Much needed, get me through the last few hours of the day coffee. I'm not the only one. I can't count the number of times I've passed another mom on her way in while I am on my way out and we give each other that knowing, supportive smile that says, "You can do it!"

Lots of joy little costLast week, while I sat at the drive through window waiting for the cashier to count out my change, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw one of those moms I often see. She looked harried. Out of no where came the thought, I'll buy her coffee - and I acted on that thought immediately, before I could inject any logic that might preclude the action. I told the cashier I wanted to pay for that woman's coffee, too.The cashier was kind of dumbfounded and stuttered a little. I said, "I just want to pay for her coffee," and gave the cashier $3.00 back. The cashier was still dumbfounded. I just drove off and went on my way. I didn't need to stay and watch what happened in the rear view mirror. I wasn't looking for a thank you from this woman, or even an introduction. It just felt like the right thing to do in that moment and I went with it. I've never done anything like that before.

Listening your inner voice

As I thought about that moment of listening to the giving instinct, I thought about how little it takes to reach out to a stranger and maybe make their day. It takes some noticing and maybe a few dollars - or nothing at all. For me, it was $3.00.It could be 75 cents when you are going through a toll road and you pay for the car behind you. It could be noticing the lady at the local market who always admires and smells the flowers but never buys them - and arranging for a bouquet to make its way into her basket. Maybe it's noticing a particularly lovely garden and leaving a note in the owner's mailbox telling them how much you think of their hard work. Maybe it's witnessing a kind act at the playground and seeking out the mother to tell her what an awesome thing her child did. It could be one of so many possible little acts.

Double the joy

You know what is the greatest thing about these little acts? It's that it's double-joy -- yours and the recipients -- and it's likely to be multiplied far beyond that moment. Just a little bit of listening to that wonderful giving instinct I'm convinced we all have, and we can make someones day -- who just might go on to make someone else's day, and on and on and on.So look around. Notice what is going on around you, notice who could use a little boost, and be the one to give it. Make a stranger's day; spread some joy.

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