Kindness is a simple answer in a sometimes difficult and challenging world. I know that to be true. For a long time now it has been my mission to acknowledge and appreciate all people and to encourage others to do the same.
When my granddaughter Skylar, was young and we’d go out, we had a contest called “Who can make the most people smile. “ And we continue it today. It makes for a wonderful glorious day. We will be walking in the supermarket and someone will be walking down the aisle with her head down. Skylar walks up to her and gives her a big smile. I watch her walk down the aisle, turn around and smile at Skylar again or perhaps smile at someone else. Kindness is a chain that pulls us all together. Anything that lifts another person is kindness. Every single act of kindness has a ripple effect.
In 2002, my dad had a series of strokes and other illness. At that time, I was the facilitator for a large women’s networking organization. One day I asked the ladies if on a personal level they could send their positive energies my dad’s way and maybe go out and do something nice for someone, someone for whom they would not normally think to do something nice. My dad has been doing nice things for all sorts of people for years, from the street crossing guard, to the waitress in a restaurant, to a friend’s mother. That same day, I made cookies for the janitor at the post office. When I gave him the cookies he actually looked a little embarrassed.
“Why, Linda?” he asked.
“Because I appreciate you!” I answered. “When I get here at 6am and it is still dark out and it is a little scary, I know you are inside and I feel safe. And when I first moved here and my post office box was always empty, you always cheered me on. And you keep this place spotless.”
That evening his wife called me and said that he was overwhelmed. “No one even knows his name never minds bakes him cookies! What can I do for you?” she asked
“Nothing, just go out and do something nice for someone else.” I answered.
Well, that woman and many other women started practicing kindness on a regular basis. It was wonderful to witness. After that day, I started becoming more and more aware of the kindness in this wonderful world of ours.
In fact, a few weeks later, I was in a drugstore looking at some items when I noticed three people standing on line at the prescription counter. The last person was a young woman with a crying baby. It was obvious the baby was sick. When she got to the head of the line, the pharmacist said he was sorry but they did not have that medication on hand but that they could get it in about 2 hours. One tear just trickled down the young woman’s cheek. Suddenly an older gentleman who was sitting on the side came over and asked if he could be of assistance. The young woman looked up at him bewildered. The man said that he didn’t have much to do and that he had to wait for his prescription, so if she wanted, he could deliver her prescription to her home.
“But I don’t even know you,” she said.
“I won’t come in your house,” he replied. “I’ll just leave it by the door and ring the bell. “
“But why?” she asked.
The man looked at her with kind eyes and said, “I live on a really limited income and my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren all live up north and I rarely get to see them so this would a privilege for me. “
With that, people in the store started nodding their heads to the young woman with approval. She mumbled okay, wrote her address on a piece of paper and gave it to the man. The baby stopped crying and the young woman left the store. By that time, I was crying. I walked over to the gentleman, introduced myself and told him how wonderful it was that he was so kind. Michael was 82 years old. We became friends and had breakfast and lunch a few times. About three months later, he phoned me to tell me that the young woman had told all of her friends about what he had done by delivering the prescription. They all chipped in and sent him airfare to visit his family. Another wonderful act of kindness and it was the last time Michael saw his family before he died.
When I am having a tough day, I recall this total act of unsolicited kindness and it always brings to me waves of gratitude. We are surrounded by kindness every day. Unfortunately, we get so wrapped in life that we forget to stop and smell the roses, as they say, or witness the acts of kindness that surround us each day. Little acts of kindness and love are the best parts of one’s life.
As the Dalai Lama said, “When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us to develop inner happiness and peace.”
So, got out today and experience the kindness around you. Bathe in it and be kind to others. You may discover that being kind to others is actually being kind to yourself.