Well my friends, here we are again. Welcome to week 3 of me, learning how to inspire me, by doing random nice things for other people and writing about them. Let's see what happened this week.
I spent last week in Croatia. It was my first time there and it lived up to all the hype of the dozen or so people that I talked to before-hand. The people are friendly and genuine, the streets are clean, the water is beautiful, the food is great and affordable, and the beer and wine will not disappoint.
I did struggle for a bit to determine what to do, but when it became clear I had to many Kunas (the local currency) to spend before leaving I figured why not just give it to someone at the airport. So, that's exactly what I did. I went near the currency-exchange window and found a small group of three weary looking travellers and handed them a wad of cash.
What happened next was a bit unexpected - I got a great big hug from the one girl in the group (also the one who physically received the money). Apparently they had been struggling to get her card to work and was essentially broke 7000 meters away from home. The amount of money I gave them wasn't a huge amount, but it was enough to be comfortable for the next 24 hours - taxi from the airport to the Airbnb, dinner and breakfast the next day. By then, all should be cleared-up with her bank and life will go on.
For me, an unexpected 8-10 second hug from a stranger and the shedding of a couple tears of joy really made my day. I figured there would be no 'story' - I predicted the same feeling I get from buying someone a gift-card for their birthday. But this was different. This was helping someone in need - someone who just needed a win and I was able to provide that win.
Welcome back. I'm not sure if that's directed at you or directed at me. Writing in such a public way still requires a bit of a re-wire and reset so bare with me. I'm sitting here in a cafe on a Sunday morning watching the normal hustle of people coming and going. There are families and tourists and students and animals. The idea this week is pretty simple - simply buy people drinks at a cafe. I've been so nervous up to this point and it took a lot of time just to figure out how I was going to ask the barista to take the money and pay for each of the drinks. There was a point yesterday when I considered shutting down the blog and abandoning the idea. That point alone made me realize I do need this for myself.
I sat down and for some reason I just figured everything would be anonymous, but as the first person with a free drink sat down near me with a cheers and a thanks, I suppose it is not (the barista keeps pointing at me). However, all of the customers seem to be Dutch native and I don't actually understand the conversations that are happening. Is there surprise, happiness, awkwardness or all of the above? I have to admit, I am a bit curious.
But what about me? Isn't this about me? I feel content again and I'm happy to simply watch other people be happy. I love the randomness of it all - it's silly and strips away the stress. Free or reduced drinks at a cafe might be something happening during an opening or planned event, but that all seems so regular and boring, akin to marketing. This is good for my heart.
The last 30 minutes seem very surreal. The last guy to receive a free drink just waved and smiled at me. He radiated gratefulness - lots of it. He made my day. Great stuff!
I have a friend who was generally vegetarian but over the last few months is now mainly vegan and gluten-free in an attempt to address a few health concerns of hers.
Flash-back two years to the time I was just a lonely boy with mediocre recipes and the cookbook, the book Thug Kitchen, was given to me. Since that day, the book has lead to some amazing dinners in the history books. And I figured now was the time to return the favor and give one to my friend.
I really do love eating and drinking with friends and family and I think there is something intimate when you purchase a cookbook for someone (although I'm not sure I've done it before). It has the potential to influence the food that goes into another's body - or even the bodies of an entire family.
But what if it is never used? I suppose that is the thing I can't control and I'm okay with that. I am passionate about trying new food combinations and letting my passion out into the world is the entire point. I've just never really done it via a random act of kindness.
I gave the book away today - and the normal things you might expect happen: Thanks you. You're welcome. This books looks great. Yeah, it's one my favorites - some good recipes. Vegetarian? Nah, all vegan and I think mostly gluten free. Wow, thanks. No problem.
But after that, I sat down and something came over me. The stress of it all was finally over. I put a part of me out there and the world didn't end. I felt content and what I can only describe as "centered". The world seems a tiny bit smaller now. Nothing too crazy or unexpected. I look forward to next week.
My previously long commute lead to me reading quite a few books over the past few years. I suppose most all of them are non-fiction. Heck, a lot of them probably fall under the self-help category. Recently, I listened to an interview of Neil Pasricha, specifically talking about his new book, The Happiness Equation. Flash forward a few weeks later and I've bought and read the book.
The book really helped me highlight and shape a lot of things I am already doing, but highlighted one major item I've struggled with previously - charity. Neil discusses a study in which students perform five acts of kindness each week. I've previously thought about and have performed random acts of kindness, but have done nothing on a regular basis.
But that's about to change. I've decided to do one (yes one, not five) pre-mediated act of kindness each week. And you may ask why? And well, the answer is simple. I'm doing it for me. I will do one nice thing each week for another friend, family member, stranger or animal each week and see if it has an effect on me. Yup, for me - to help keep my perspective on what is important and reinforce the journey I seek.
I'll write about my first charity act next week. Until then I've posted a bit more about me in the About page and some photos from my Instagram feed in the Photos page.
Paul in Amsterdam.