Cultivating a Culture of Kindness
National Random Acts of Kindness Day happened recently, and it got us thinking about what a huge role kindness plays in how well society functions. Kindness isn’t necessarily the easiest path, but it’s almost always the right one. The ability to act — and to interact — compassionately is one of the greatest gifts we have as humans, and we’re here to talk about how we can all put it to better use.
Think about the last time you were on the receiving end of a random act of kindness. Maybe it was a door held open when your hands were full or a hand held tightly when your heart felt empty.
Maybe the person in front of you at Starbucks paid for your latte, or the cashier at Target gave your cranky toddler extra stickers (and subsequently, gave you an extra peaceful drive home).
Maybe your neighbor brought over a home-cooked meal when you’d just had a baby, and the thoughtfulness of it nourished your heart as much as the food nourished your family’s bellies.
A piece of dark chocolate left on your desk during a tough day at work. A “just because” bunch of flowers sitting on your porch when you get home. A parking meter paid by a stranger when your doctor’s appointment took longer than expected. A compliment delivered sincerely. Bad news delivered gently.
These small actions have a big impact, and it’s not just because they have a positive effect in the moment that they occur (although of course that’s part of it). When you witness kindness, whether you’re the recipient of it or just an observer, it changes the way you see the world for the better, and that’s something that sticks with you long after the chocolate has been eaten or the latte has been drunk or the door closes behind you.
Kindness is Contagious
It’s hard, when we see ugly interactions everywhere from road rage at intersections to trolling in comments sections, to remember what compassionate communication looks like. It’s hard, when each news alert is more horrifying than the last, not to feel a little hopeless about the state of the world.
It’s hard not to react with anger.
When your little boy comes home from school crying because someone made fun of his haircut.
When you come out of the supermarket and there’s a shopping cart resting against your bumper even though you parked two spaces from the cart corral.
When the woman a table over from you at lunch didn’t know that croutons have gluten in them and is berating the server for not making it more clear.
But you have a choice.
You can either lash out at the child who bullied your son, or you can take the time to find out what might be influencing that behavior, and what you can do to help.
You can either back out into that shopping cart and send it flying into someone else’s car, or you can put it where it belongs. Maybe even grab a few other “forgotten” carts while you’re at it.
You can roll your eyes at the “I want to speak to a manager” lady in the restaurant, or you can flash her a smile and then leave an extra big tip for your server.
When we’ve grown accustomed to expecting the worst, the smallest glimpse of good can completely change the picture. Encountering concern when we were anticipating indifference is inspiring. Being seen when we feel invisible makes us want to show our best side and be our best selves. So kindness is rarely an isolated incident…it’s a chain reaction.
Every day, you have the chance to choose kindness, over and over and over. The wider open your eyes, your ears, and your heart are, the more evident those opportunities will be.
Something as simple as a smile at exactly the right time can change the course of someone’s day. Maybe that smile is payed forward as a compliment to someone who’s feeling down, and that compliment is payed forward as a conversation with someone who was feeling alone, and that conversation is payed forward as a thoughtful gift to someone who needed to smile…and it comes full circle. All it takes is one warm hug to change a culture of cold shoulders.
In addition to those random acts of kindness, of course, are the not-so-random ones — the things you do for the people you love. Sometimes these are little things, too, like cooking your daughter’s favorite meal when you know she’s had a hard day or hiding a love note in your husband’s briefcase. But, sometimes they’re bigger things…like putting in the time to find the right life insurance.
Our Life Covered℠ is our act of kindness to women who want to protect their families. Our affordable policies, easy-to-use quote tool, and completely clickable application process mean you can spend less time looking for life insurance. And that means you can spend more time making life beautiful.
Originally published at www.ourlifecovered.com.