Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Gratitude & Giving

How one red cup made my day

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

This morning, I woke up tired - both mentally and physically. Not only was I tired, but I was already salty and mad at the world and was trying to prepare for another long day.

After dropping my son off at school, I headed to Starbucks along with every other person on the planet because caffeine, duh, and because it’s RED CUP DAY! One of the most glorious days of all the days. I wanted my first delicious sip of a peppermint mocha for the season and I also wanted the free, reusable holiday cup they were giving away.

When I pulled up, I noticed that the line was never ending, and people were trying to pull into the drive-thru from all directions. My daughter was screaming in the back seat because she hasn’t pooped in three days, and her tummy hurts. My anxiety started creeping up thanks to my patience that always seems to be lost, and my level of bitterness was growing rapidly. I was worried all the reusable cups would be gone (which is embarrassing to admit - hello, first world problems!). After a few cars wouldn’t let me in, I finally muscled my way into the line anyways, and settled in to wait for what seemed like fifteen years.

To my shock, after I ordered and reached the window, the barista told me that the car in front of me paid for my drink. The woman driving told the barista that she cut me off in the line and felt absolutely horrible. She didn’t realize what was going on because there were so many cars, and she wanted to apologize.

Talk about instant perspective.

Here I was, wallowing in my own pity party and feeling upset and frustrated with things I really should learn to Elsa (my term for when I need to “Let It Go”), and this woman chose to be such a decent human being with one simple random act of kindness. How often do people cut others off while driving, and actually show remorse for it? How often do people do anything and show remorse for it?

It wasn’t that she paid for my drink. It was that she did something we don’t see much of anymore. She allowed herself to be human. She allowed herself to do something nice and selfless for another person without expecting anything in return.

In this world we live in today, negativity, hate, and selfishness breeds like wildfire. It’s everywhere. It’s on social media, it’s on TV, it’s in our workplaces and our schools, and even within our own families. Our society spends more time perpetuating hate and negativity and condemning those who have differing opinions than we do, than we do on fostering love, tolerance, acceptance and kindness.

Today, it took a random act of kindness to remind me that there is so much good and beauty in this world. There are good people. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in everything negative within our own lives that we often neglect and forget the positive. I let small, insignificant things completely alter my mood and mental state this morning, when instead I should strive to be thankful and grateful for all the ways I’ve been blessed.

We all need to pay it forward more often. We need to make random acts of kindness the new norm instead of something that happens so seldom that it takes us by surprise. We need to take a step back, breathe, and think about how our words and actions are affecting others. Think about what an incredible place this world would be if we were all kind to one another. If we respected each other’s opinions instead of criticized them. If we allowed people to feel comfortable in their own skin instead of being pressured to hide who they really are. If we accepted each other regardless of our differences. If we offered to help when someone needed it, if we listened, if we shared, and if we loved and laughed more. Go out today and do something kind for someone. Make someone smile. You’ll find that it not only brightens their day, but yours as well.

This morning, after the barista handed me a piping hot peppermint mocha, I paid for the drink of the person behind me. I wanted to pass on the warm and fuzzy feeling to someone else. My day had instantly turned around, and I felt the saltiness start to dissolve. I was still tired, but I had my favorite coffee to help with that, I snagged a reusable cup, and I had gained a new, positive perspective to tackle my day. As I looked in my rear-view mirror, I saw the reaction of the woman driving the car behind me when she realized someone had paid for her coffee. I’m not sure what kind of morning she was having, but her huge smile told me everything I needed to know.

With one random act of kindness, the woman who cut me off drove away a better person. I drove away a better person. The woman in the car behind me drove away a better person, and hopefully felt compelled to pay it forward herself.

A little bit of kindness has the possibility of reaching farther than you could even imagine.

Pass it on.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.