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Random Acts of Kindness in the Time of COVID

Updated: Nov 5


Written by Kurt Kleiner


"The common denominator with all of the gestures and acts of kindness suggested so far is that there is never a cost or penalty."



Victor, MT (November 2, 2020) - During these times of stress, uncertainty, and anxiety, a few kind words or a gesture of positivity can be as infectious and transmissible as the Covid virus itself. It can be a small but powerful antidote for almost anyone having a bad day. All it takes is a positive frame of mind and a willing heart to spontaneously share the good vibe. Here are some ideas.


If you are driving down Brooks or Reserve, and someone in the lane next to you puts their turn signal on, slow down, let them into your lane in front of you, and give them a wave.

Driving your vehicle offers many opportunities. Besides stopping at a pedestrian crosswalk because the law says you should, try to make eye contact, smile, and wave at the person trying to cross. If you are driving down Brooks or Reserve, and someone in the lane next to you puts their turn signal on, slow down, let them into your lane in front of you, and give them a wave. When another driver is overly aggressive or appears to be driving under the influence of anger, I cannot view the act of changing lanes, slowing down, and giving a smile as a submissive gesture of losing a contest. Instead, I first view it as an opportunity to keep my own stress level down, while perhaps giving them a reason to pause, think about their own attitude, and perhaps slow down and relax a little.


It doesn’t matter much if my kindness has any effect on that person. The choice is theirs. We can only control our own reactions and response.

It doesn’t matter much if my kindness has any effect on that person. The choice is theirs. We can only control our own reactions and response. In all life circumstances, it can sometimes be a real challenge to simply refuse to let another person’s bad demeanor adversely affect or diminish your own positive vibe. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, you can use the negativity that others project upon you to respond with a reaction of peace and goodwill that brings you peace, and is completely opposite of what they might expect or be looking for. Although I have no idea where or how I learned this, I recall using this strategy early on to diffuse and deflect the anger of bullies, and it has worked ever since then. I believe I was the only boy in my 6th or 7th grade that never got into a fight. Perhaps I will never know if or how often this approach can actually soften a hardened heart of stone in someone else.


Showing love toward someone or something that another person obviously loves, without initially addressing that person directly, can be every bit as powerful as a direct compliment to the person.

If I am out hiking and encounter another hiker or a family with one or more dogs, I turn my attention to the dogs, smile, and say something like, “Aaaw… Who loves doggies?” I then tell the owner, “Your dog is beautiful. Enjoy your walk in this gorgeous fall weather.” I have rarely seen a response other than a warm smile, and I often hear a “thank you” in return. Showing love toward someone or something that another person obviously loves, without initially addressing that person directly, can be every bit as powerful as a direct compliment to the person. I call it “third-party deflection.” If you are mainly a cat lover, or if it is not a person walking their dog, you can say something nice about another person’s car, their bike, their shoes, or whatever object you see that stands out, and leave them with a smile and a brighter day.


I have occasionally been in a line at the register carrying only one or two items when someone just ahead with a full cart lets me go in front of them to check out. That’s always struck me as a small but powerful act of kindness that I now try to exercise whenever there’s an opportunity.

In a grocery store parking lot, a mother with two young children just finished putting the kids and groceries in the car. As I stepped out of my own vehicle, I offered to take the empty basket back to the store so she could drive away without diverting her attention away from her children to move the shopping cart, even if it would only be for 15 or 20 seconds. While shopping in a store, I have occasionally been in a line at the register carrying only one or two items when someone just ahead with a full cart lets me go in front of them to check out. That’s always struck me as a small but powerful act of kindness that I now try to exercise whenever there’s an opportunity.


The common denominator with all of the gestures and acts of kindness suggested so far is that there is never a cost or penalty. There are only positive gains both for the giver and the receiver of the kindness. Who wants to turn away cost-free opportunities with no strings attached?


There are few simple acts more powerful and rewarding than paying it forward.

If you are not living on a tight budget, or if the cost of this next idea is minimal, you can always “pay it forward.” There are few things that strike the heart with gratitude more than a person ahead of you in line who secretly pre-pays for your purchase, and leaves the store before your transaction with the cashier is complete. Once that has happened to you, it will compel you to do the same for someone else. If you can spare a couple of extra dollars, there are few simple acts more powerful and rewarding than paying it forward. If this is something you just can’t afford, think of the hundreds of other cost-free opportunities, like the ideas shared above, that we all encounter on a daily basis that can brighten someone’s moment in life. Everyone wins.


Living with a habit of spontaneously sharing kindness without even thinking about it will bring you greater patience, a greater sense of gratitude for simple things, and overall reduced stress and anxiety in your own life during difficult times.

Even on your own worst day, a spontaneous act of random kindness shared with others brings a personal moment of peace and joy that cannot be described. As you collect these intrinsic benefits of your own kindness in the basket of your heart, you will change over time as well. The more often you share the vibe, the more it becomes a simple automatic response. Living with a habit of spontaneously sharing kindness without even thinking about it will bring you greater patience, a greater sense of gratitude for simple things, and overall reduced stress and anxiety in your own life during difficult times.



About Your Neighbor:




Kurt Kleiner is a U of M graduate from 1985 who left to pursue a 30-year career as an Aviation Manager for several federal firefighting agencies (NPS, USFS, and BLM).  After working in seven western states, he finally returned home to retire in the Bitterroot Valley in 2019.  He has been a licensed pilot since 1988 and has spent most of his weekends and evenings in the past 15 years teaching flying lessons as an FAA Certified Flight Instructor.  He continues to actively fly as a fire patrol pilot on USFS contracts in the summer, and as an occasional part-time flight instructor.  His other hobbies include hiking, rock climbing, skiing, and snowshoeing, photography, and developing/presenting aviation safety training courses for various pilot groups.  His favorite things about western Montana are the friendly people who seem connected to the natural environment around us, the endless outdoor recreation opportunities in our wide-open landscapes, and the visual gift of sunlight dancing upon the mountains and clouds, providing a crisp definition of our unique Big Sky. 

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