It’s a rarity for me to come across random acts of kindness, especially on a college campus. It seems as though most people are glued to their cell phones or plugged into their iPods. Once in a blue moon, people will look up and catch a glimpse of another human. Meaningful and positive interactions with strangers appear to be uncommon. News sources report daily about the latest gun horror, a local robbery or another murderer who’s on the loose. We have become so caught up in the drama and negativity closing in around us that we forget one thing that can make our lives better: paying it forward.
Several weeks ago, I lost my watch. When I retraced my steps, I knew that I must have dropped it on the floor of an auditorium in the Modern Language Building. I also remembered, with a sinking feeling in my stomach, that there was a physics exam immediately following my lecture.
I was sure my watch was gone for good. I e-mailed my teacher as well as the physics professor, hoping that somehow, miraculously, someone had picked it up and turned it in. No such luck.
The physics professor promised me that he would post an announcement about my watch on the bottom of his slides in hopes that someone would turn it in. The days came and went. No watch was turned in. After two more physics classes passed, still nothing. Then I got an e-mail from a student who had picked up my watch after the exam. He had finally gotten my e-mail address from the professor’s slides and went out of his way to return the watch. Needless to say, I was elated that it was returned in perfect condition.
While stories like this may seem mundane or simple, they show that random acts of kindness still exist in our society. Not only did it take kindness on the student’s part to return my watch, but it also took the compassion and effort of the professor to post the information on his lecture slides. Both parties easily could have written me off and ignored my requests, but these individuals went further than just answering my questions — they proactively helped me find a lost possession.
If one of them had been indifferent to my situation, I would still be without my watch. But the professor and the student both chose to go the extra mile for a stranger. I would love to claim that this humane gesture is exclusive to our campus due to “The Michigan Difference,” but that simply can’t be true. My mom has a similar story about losing her wallet and having it returned by a man who took nothing from it. He just called her and gave it back.
It’s good to remember that we’re all human — we’re all here to help each other out even if we don’t owe anything to anyone. While mass murders, cutthroat political arguments and vengeful arsons will all continue, each of us can choose to make the world a better place through small gestures of kindness. Paying it forward can mean anything from holding the door for a fellow student to carrying groceries out to an old lady’s car at Kroger. Not only will you make someone else’s day better, but you, too, may get a little joy out of being kind.
According to the health insurance company Cigna, when people perform acts of kindness they get a sense of “exhilaration and euphoria” which “may add a heightened sense of well-being.” This can also “lead to a sense of connectedness with others.” Going out of your way to help another human being can only have positive repercussions. So spread the positivity.
Maura Levine is an LSA sophomore.