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42 Days of Random Acts of Kindness

birthday random acts of kindnessA while back I came across a blog post in which a woman explained that she had just turned 38 years old, and that she had spent her birthday doing 38 random acts of kindness. I immediately thought, “What a fantastic idea!”

Inspired by that blog post, I decided to do 42 random acts of kindness for my 42nd birthday (I know, I don’t look a day over 30. πŸ™‚ ). However, I changed it up a bit: instead of doing 42 random acts of kindness on one day, I decided to do one act of kindness a day, for 42 days, as a countdown to my birthday.

My birthday is on May 2nd, so I started the countdown on March 21st. Here’s what I did for my 42 days of random acts of kindness:

Day 1 – March 21st: I left 2 quarters in the change slot of a public phone located next to a park which I walk by on a daily basis.

Day 2 – March 22nd: I helped out two tourists looking for the Trump building here in Panama (yes, as in Donald Trump).

Day 3 – March 23rd: I donated the $16.61 I had in my Kiva account to Kiva for operating expenses (Kiva gives loans to people in developing countries to help them with their small businesses).

Day 4 – March 24th: A woman standing behind me in the line at the fruit grocery store asked me if she could pay before me, and I let her.

Day 5 – March 25th: I donated $10 to “Save the Children” (an organization that helps children in need in the United States and around the world).

Day 6 – March 26th: I sent out a tweet recommending my awesome graphic designer to others.


Day 7 – March 27th: Donated 1000 grains of rice through the World Food Programme.

Day 8 – March 28th: Held the door to my building’s lobby open for a neighbor who was coming up the stairs.

Day 9 – March 29th: There’s a fast-food Chinese restaurant here in Panama called “Don Lee”. For every $2.50 cents that you pay, you get a sticker called a “paisanito” which is basically worth 25 cents. You can either exchange the paisanitos for food at Don Lee, or you can donate them to help feed the hungry. Today I ate at Don Lee and donated the paisanito that they gave me.


Day 10 – March 30th: Contributed to the Wikipedia community by reporting an error in one of their articles.

Day 11 – March 31st: Went to Don Lee again and donated two paisanitos (see Day 9).

Day 12 – April 1st: I sent my brother an email telling him that I miss him and planning a get-together.

Day 13 – April 2nd: Helped out three people asking for critiques of their lenses in the Squidoo forum.

Day 14 – April 3rd: I saw a woman driving at night with her car lights off, and I let her know.

Day 15 – April 4th: I reviewed, “Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work” on Amazon. As an author, I know how grateful I am every time someone takes the time to let me know what they thought of one of my eBooks.

Day 16 – April 5th: I left $1 in the donation box at the Arrocha pharmacy for the “Casita de Mausi” (a shelter that provides a place to stay for low income people from the interior of the country who come to the capital to get cancer treatment at the hospitals here).

Day 17 – April 6th: I was standing in the express line at the supermarket and I had eight items. The girl standing behind me only had a carton of eggs, so I let her go in front of me.

Day 18 – April 7th: I told a man walking along with his two little twins that his daughters are beautiful. I got a big smile for that.

Day 19 – April 8th: I left 2 quarters in the coin slot of a public phone near my apartment.

Day 20 – April 9th: I went to visit my two little nephews and played everything they wanted for 2.5 hours. This meant watching Angry Birds videos with the five year-old until he left for his karate lessons, and playing Battleship on the iPad and then Legos with the eight year-old.

Day 21 – April 10th: I sent my sister an email offering to take care of her two little boys so that she and her husband could have dinner out for her birthday.

Day 22 – April 11th: I helped out three people asking for critiques of their lenses in the Squidoo forum.

Day 23 – April 12th: An elderly lady asked me for money as I walked down the street, and I gave her a $1 bill.

Day 24 – April 13th: I called my brother to catch up on how he’s doing.

Day 25 – April 14th: I left $1 on the edge of a flower pot next to a sidewalk that gets a lot of foot traffic.

Day 26 – April 15th: I found a small blog that doesn’t get a lot of traffic and I left an encouraging comment.

Day 27 – April 16th: I called my 91 year-old grandmother just to say “hello” and see how she’s doing. My grandfather passed away about 30 years ago.

Day 28 – April 17th:Β  I was friendly to a pharmacy employee whom I reported for rudeness a couple of weeks ago. She apologized for her rudeness, and I wanted her to know that it’s now water under the bridge.

Day 29 – April 18th: Made a $10 donation to “The One Fund Boston, Inc.”.Β  This fund was set up by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino to help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15th of this year.

Day 30 – April 19th: I helped out a man at the supermarket who was looking for balsamic vinegar.

Day 31 – April 2oth: I stopped to pet a dog (because dogs need kindness, too).

Day 32 – April 21st: I went to a buffet brunch with my family. I served a plate for my grandmother so she didn’t have to get up.

Day 33 – April 22nd: I chatted for a while with an elderly waiter who works at a club I go to often. He’s always looking for someone to listen to his latest ailments.

Day 34 – April 23rd: I helped a man pick out fruit at the fruit store.

Day 35 – April 24th: I overheard a lady who works at a pharmacy that I frequent saying that it was her birthday, so I went over to wish her a happy birthday. Incidentally, I know her name because I make it a point to learn the names of the employees who work at places I go to often.

Day 36 – April 25th: I picked up litter as I went for a walk (a Styrofoam cup, an ATM receipt, and a candy wrapper)

Day 37 – April 26th: I smiled at and greeted three strangers as I walked home today (and yes, they smiled back).

Day 38 – April 27th: I gave a box of raisins to a security guard I came across as I walked home from the grocery store.

Day 39 – April 28th:Β  There’s a shopping cart in my building’s garage so that people can take their groceries up to their apartment. Whoever uses the shopping cart is supposed to take it back to its proper place when they’re done. However, today when I walked into the elevator, I saw that someone had left the shopping cart in there. As my act of kindness, I returned the cart to where it belongs.

Incidentally, there was a dollar bill in the shopping cart. I guess it was left there as a tip for whoever returned the shopping cart (I had never been tipped before). I took the dollar bill and deposited it in the donations box at a pharmacy I frequent.

Day 40 – April 29th: I went to Popeye’s and got some Chicken Bites. The meal comes with an iced tea, and I ordered it to go. As I left Popeye’s I noticed an elderly lady who looked like she could use the iced tea, and I gave it to her. She was very grateful.

Day 41 – April 30th: Made a $25 donation to Kiva.

Day 42 – May 1st: This random act of kindness is for you. I’m going to give you 50% off on all of my eBooks, for 48 hours, starting the moment this blog post is published and ending at midnight on May 2nd. Use the discount code: “birthday” (without the quotations).

Here are my eBooks:

banner book of possibilities

banner make it happen

banner bucket list banner guidebook of dreams

banner tips for writers

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ronny May 1, 2013, 6:34 am

    Interesting idea. My birthday is coming up, and I’ve been pretty ambivalent about celebrating in the normal way due to some unpleasantness on the family front. Will give this some thought.

  • Kay May 1, 2013, 6:42 am

    What a great idea!! I will change it up since my birthday is in December – but I love it πŸ™‚ 57 random acts of kindness starting TODAY!

  • Bill Gibson May 1, 2013, 7:12 am

    Thank you for making the world a kinder place. It is fun to think about the people who found the quarters and received the Kiva loans and dollars and iced tea just when they needed them. You showed us that kindness is not costly or difficult and opportunities are everywhere. I think your post will multiply it since we are now looking for little ways to help someone out. THANK YOU

  • Marelisa May 1, 2013, 10:33 am

    Hi Ronny: I would highly recommend that you do.

  • Marelisa May 1, 2013, 10:34 am

    Hi Kay: I’m glad you liked the idea. The world could certainly use more kindness.

  • Marelisa May 1, 2013, 10:37 am

    Hi Bill: Sometimes people hesitate to take on a project like this precisely because they think that it’s going to cost them a lot of money or take tons of time. However, little things add up. And, like you say, opportunities to be kind are all around us. πŸ™‚

  • Jim May 1, 2013, 1:33 pm

    Thankyou so much Marelisa!
    I heartily concur with your thinking behind “your 42 acts of random kindness.” I am underway with 57! You are making my life and this world a better place.
    Happy birthday Marelisa!
    Thank you so much for helping us all.

  • Marelisa May 1, 2013, 1:38 pm

    Thank you for your birthday wishes, Jim, and for your kind comment. πŸ™‚

  • Lana May 2, 2013, 12:30 am

    Thank you for what you do. Yours is the only blog I’ve ever read that has “stuck” to me and calls me to read each and every post. πŸ™‚ I love your positivity, intelligence and insight. I too am turning 42 this month (the 31st). I love travel (I’ve done quite a few of your “50” bucket list things), KIVA, leaving things for people to find (like quarters) and filling the internet with uplifting thought. …and I love getting new ideas from your blog.
    Lana πŸ™‚

  • Meghana Acharya May 2, 2013, 6:59 am

    Happy Birthday,Marelisa!! Wishing you a very jubilant year.
    Thank you for your efforts to help people get most and more of everything in life!!

  • Shirah R. May 2, 2013, 7:11 am

    Thank you Marelisa and happy birthday!! I have been enjoying your blog for years and years and look forward to every posting.
    Love this idea and will mark my calendar for the day to start my acts of kindness….it’s a few more days than yours. Look forward to enjoying your books too.

  • Marelisa May 2, 2013, 10:12 am

    Thank you, Lana! It sounds like we have a lot in common, right down to sharing the same birthday month. πŸ™‚

  • Marelisa May 2, 2013, 10:12 am

    Hi Meghana: Thank you for your birthday wishes! πŸ™‚

  • Marelisa May 2, 2013, 10:14 am

    Hi Shirah: Thank you, and I’m glad that you’re going to do a random acts of kindness countdown, too. πŸ™‚

  • Ella May 12, 2013, 4:44 am

    Absolutely heart-lightening.. will start doing the acts of kindness .. and look forward to reading your books! πŸ™‚