Recently, two of my fellow Medium writers launched a “kindness bomb,” urging other scribes in our community to stop bullying one another.
I wanted to contribute but unfortunately, was juggling too many balls to make the deadline. So, I’d like to piggyback on their “bomb” and expand the focus a bit here on LinkedIn.
I’ve always believed myself to be a kind person. Empathetic. Sensitive. Someone who can sense when someone is bruised and hurting. In fact, a fellow screenwriter recently commented that he believed I was an empath. That threw me a little, but hey, I’ll take it. I’m sure I’ve been called worse.
It’s so easy to believe that we’ve lost our humanity. Follow CNN by the hour and you’ll get what I mean. The news is bad, people. So. Fucking. Bad. Felons at the helm of our administration. Raging brushfires wiping out homes, people, animals. Ancient animosities that continue to ignite in warfare and the senseless death of innocents. Mass shootings.
To get lost in all this is to die a little bit each day. Each newscast is like a punch in the gut. But, we can fight back. Just by being kind to one another. By realizing that we’re all in this together. We all want to be happy. We all want to believe that we’re living a good and true life. So, why can’t we help each other achieve this?
It takes so little to make someone feel better about themselves…life…the whole damned universe.
Like so many people, I used to walk around in my own private fog, head stuck firmly up my arse. I’ve since tried to do better…be better.
When I’m in the supermarket and see another shopper who looks harried, or sad, or angry, I try to catch their eye. I smile. Even if I’m feeling like utter shit, myself. Sometimes they respond; at other times, they look away. I’m fine with that.
Although I used to experience frequent road rage at all the asshole drivers who think their time is more valuable than the rest of us schlubs — like the ones who use the right turn lane to cut you off — now I let them. Before I used to gun my Fiat and make them squeeze in behind me, my middle finger raised for good measure, but now I figure it’s not worth an accident, or worse, a bullet in the head. This isn’t so much “kindness,” as common sense. Funny how I’m displaying more of this, these days.
When a cashier looks like they’re dead on their feet, I make sure to take the time to thank them and sometimes, drop a compliment that leaves them beaming. How long does this take? Ten seconds? Five? We all have at least, that, right?
Certainly, anyone can do this. We hear a lot about “random acts of kindness.” Well, hell yeah. Let’s go!
- Let’s check in on an elderly neighbor…maybe lend a hand with chores like shopping or yard work.
- At a supermarket or department store, let’s allow someone with two items to get in front of us, in line. Hey — more time for your phone.
- Speaking of phones, let’s punch in a number, instead of texting, and have an actual, old-school conversation! (For those of you unfamiliar with this quaint, yet effective means of communication, what you do, is have a one-on-one discourse with someone, instead of spilling your guts on Facebook. Try it! It’s rad!)
- Let’s thank someone in law enforcement, or the military or anyone who puts their lives on the line for others, for their service. (Firefighters, especially, blow me away with their courage.)
- Let’s not walk by the homeless, as if they’re invisible. Or, shit that needs scraping off our shoes. A couple of bucks. A cup of coffee. A sandwich. These are human beings. They hunger. They hurt. And, whatever their circumstances – deserve our empathy.
- At holiday time, let’s leave a note, along with a small token of our appreciation, for our mail carrier and the guy or gal who delivers our newspapers. (Even though our mail carrier is kind of a dick and never thanked us for the ten bucks we left him last Christmas.)
- Let’s not take the knee-jerk reaction on social media when someone pisses us off, or we’re having a bad day. I did this a while back and felt like shit about. I’ve since apologized, which brings me to:
- Let’s say “I’m sorry” And mean it.
Finally, let’s practice the very essence of kindness, which is the concern and consideration of others. And all living creatures.
Imagine the change we could effect if we all just took a few seconds out of our day to make someone else feel good. A few measly seconds. Think: How awesome is this?
The other day, I was in a department store checkout line and I was struck by the cashier’s genuinely sweet disposition. She radiated kindness and was radiant, in turn. The woman smiled at each customer and took the time to say a few friendly words. When it was my turn, I couldn’t help myself: I told her that I loved the way she had made up her eyes and I swear — she positively twinkled. I left that store with a huge grin on my face.
Mahatma Gandhi was a guy who knew a little bit about kindness. He said:
The simplest acts of. kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.
Something to think about, yes?
A very inspiring message.
Plus: your kindness to others also tends to brighten your own day.
And simple words of kindness are tiny prayers in themselves!
Thanks Sherry for leaking out some ideas of being kind.
Improving our own world happens as we express gratitude . . .
As a bonus, you often find that small thank you’s and smiles lift me up as you go through your day.
Thank you Sherry. It takes just one simple act of kindness, by one person at a time to create a movement of change.
Even a gentle gesture is enough to see the world in a different light.
Every person we meet is fighting a battle we know nothing about. We should try to be kind, always.
No matter how simple or how small, a shared joy can only produce new joy. Just as a gesture of humanity – because this is basically what it is about – it is the perfect seed for other spontaneous gestures of humanity. It takes very little to be kind.
There is no need to think big, at least in that. We can certainly do something striking or participate in well-planned collective events and actions, but it is in everyday life that kindness – the real one – takes root. A nice word, a thoughtful gesture, a polite behavior: there are many opportunities we have every day to show ourselves more attentive to the people around us, be they friends, colleagues or complete strangers.
Sincere kindness is the expression of an inner beauty, often hidden. It is something that shuns public appreciation because it is self-sufficient: when we are kind we feel better, even stronger. But it goes beyond itself because it multiplies, like an infinite word of mouth, bringing a smile everywhere and in any case.
The first great quality of kindness is that of closeness: closeness to others, closeness to the feelings, difficulties, moments of others.
Kindness therefore shows itself in its profound, fine delicacy: that of listening, first of all of oneself and then to others, but also that of availability.
We are kind with words, with concrete help, with our emotional participation.
But it also transmits another great expression of humanity: that of not judging others.
We can all make mistakes, be afraid, experience moments of weakness or loss. Kindness allows us to remember it, not to give in to easy condemnation, to feel compassion, to understand.
Feeling close, listening, not judging, means expressing kindness towards other people, but also respect towards life itself.
“Every person we meet is fighting a battle we know nothing about. We should try to be kind, always.”
So true, Aldo. Your response is typically thoughtful and typically lovely. It does really take so little to help someone feel even a modicum of joy and I hope my article made that point.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting.
Thank you, Sherry.
What if kindness is actually our default setting? It’s easy to test: We simply ask ourselves, “What have I embraced that is standing in the way of my kindness?” If we ask that absolutely, rigorously honest (I know, that’s grammatically suspect, but the cadence is much better and I believe language is best heard, not just seen), we’ll find the barrier(s); then we remove them and the kindness will bloom, not like algae but like the flowers we bring our love. It’s simple. Not easy, but very very simple.
Excellent point, Mac and I’ll take “rigorously honest!”
Yes, we’ve gotten away from truly “hearing” one another thanks to our reliance on social media. Still, some things are timeless, like a one-on-one conversation where both parties can take comfort in actually hearing another human being. Personally, I get weary of texting, too. When did we get so busy we can’t make a simple phone call?
Thanks very much, Mac.
Sherry, Such an inspiring and energizing article. You are obviously passionate about the topic of kindness. Kindness is more than ever more crucial. Even prior to Covid it was a crucial element needed by people, but often overlooked. Proactive kindness is essential; but not ‘pushy’. Therefore empathy. Once there is a meeting of minds, genuine kindness can be given and accepted. Both parties then gain from the engaging manner.
Championing positivity, empathy and KINDNESS
Verty true, Maria! Thank you!!
Thank you for sharing your kindness ideas, Sherry! Kindness goes a long way and is remarkably less burden on the body than always being anxious. Learning kindness takes patience and that often requires time, experience, teaming and guiding others. We should remember that even behind a mask we now often wear in public, people can sense our kindness and eyes reflect our smile.