Lizzie and I had just finished paying for filling the car with petrol and were driving off from the service station, pausing to re-enter the traffic, when this guy rushed past us on foot running toward the car who had just entered the traffic in front of us.

It was obviously some road rage incident… we’re often hearing the media report that road rage is at epidemic proportions. The guy frantically hit his open hand on the back of the car to get the driver’s attention. He was lucky that there wasn’t a lot of traffic, as this was a pretty dangerous act.

The driver at first ignored him, but he was persistent, still running and hitting the back of the car to get her to pull over.

As Liz and I watched, not sure of what I might need to do next to help in what looked like a pretty volatile situation, we realised that this was in fact a good deed in progress.

The driver had inadvertently driven off from filling her car with petrol, without replacing the petrol cap and latch. When the driver pulled over, the guy who had been chasing simply screwed the cap back on the petrol tank and closed the latch, and waved the driver on their way. He then turned around, getting off the road, and walked back passed us with a big smile and returned to his own car that was parked at the service station.

It wasn’t that big of a deal, but I can’t help but think that the reason it sticks in my mind, and why every time I think about it, I smile and catch myself affirming that “That’s the way it ought to be.”

Most days in our life, we will have the opportunity to do random acts of goodness or kindness. It might be returning not just your own shopping trolley, but grabbing a couple of others on the way as you do. It might be picking up a bit of rubbish that just missed the bin. It might be holding the lift door open for that person who is just going to miss it. It might be letting that person with only a few things to pay for at the checkout counter jump in ahead of you.

Intentional Practical Altruism

Sure, it’s easy to roll your eyes at this nicey-nice random acts of kindness stuff, but here’s the reality and it’s inescapable in its truth. When you do a random act of goodness or kindness, you’re practicing what I refer to as intentional practical altruism. Even though you may not get thanked, you’re adding to your personal sense of pride in who you are, in that you’re demonstrating ‘nice matters.’ And I defy anyone who would try to argue that doing something nice, good or kind doesn’t make them feel a bit better about who they are and what they’ve just contributed to their world.

In fact, the research into positive psychology and neuro-science backs me up in this, but seriously, do we really need evidence that doing ‘nice’ is not only good for the person doing it, but that it has a broader positive impact?

Just think about that one random act of ‘nice’ by that guy, positively impacted on the other driver, and certainly positively impact on Liz and I, and now in turn, I’m passing the message on to you… just as a reminder of what you already know to be true.

Imagine if we all did this just that little bit more…