Thursday, July 10, 2008

Kindness Counts


You've heard the saying, "Commit random acts of kindness?" There is even an organization and website committed to spreading the word. But how many of us do it? It really doesn't take much at all. Personally, I've been trying to be more aware of moments in my own life when I can pass on an act of kindness when I'm out and about in public. A smile here, a cheerful hello there. Offering to take a shopping cart back to the store, or to put it in the collection gate in the parking lot because you're going to pass it anyway. Offering compliments to complete strangers. Helping someone pick up a heavy item to put in their cart or car. Giving someone a loving hug. Picking up trash and throwing it away. These are just a few of the random acts of kindness that we can do and it doesn't cost us anything. And they can make the biggest difference without us even realizing it.

There have been numerous times in my life when someone has told me that they were having a really bad day and just my giving them a compliment made their day. I remember once when an elder woman wasn’t having a good day and wasn’t feeling well, so I gave her a hug. Afterwards, she exclaimed, “Gosh, I can’t even remember the last time someone gave me a hug!” Or a biggie…. I had a friend in college who said that she was thinking about committing suicide until I became her friend. All I did was become her friend, too. I was nice to her. That’s all it took.

How many people out there are in so much pain, and just an act of kindness could brighten their day. Or maybe someone was thinking about doing something drastic to themselves or someone else, and just your kind word or deed caused them to rethink it and they changed their mind?

We also need to remember to commit random acts of kindness to ourselves. I think we’re harder on ourselves more than anyone else. When was the last time you paid yourself a compliment? Or did something nice just for you? You’re worth it, too!

Children especially need kind words. Childhood isn’t always easy, and some children are desperate for love and attention. Maybe they’re not getting it from home. You may be the only rope that child has to hang onto. Invite them over for lunch or dinner. Take them to a movie. Believe in them. Listen to them. Tell them you’re proud of them. That can make all the difference in the world to the choices that child will make in the future.

When was the last time you said something kind to your husband, wife, partner, children, parents? When was the last time you hugged them or told them you loved them and were proud of them? Don’t just assume that they know. Kids especially will remember these words.

Anthony Robbins (I think it was him) once said, “Never take away a person’s hope, because that may be all they have left.” I never have forgotten that. Are you building someone up, or tearing them down? I never want to be responsible for bringing someone down.

Saying kind or unkind things can cause a domino effect. There’s a commercial currently running on TV where one person does a kindness for someone, and either that person or someone who saw the kind act, then is inspired to do a kind act for someone else, and someone else, and someone else. But that could be the same for an unkind act or word. How many of us has had someone be nasty to us, which then put us in a bad mood, and then before you know it, that negativity spread to all those around us?

We have choices in what we say and do. We can make a difference even if it is only one person at a time. And making a difference one person at a time can change the world.

So, let’s make a commitment to change the world one person at a time, starting today. Be the wonderful and magnificent person you are and spread the love!


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