I can’t tell you how often it happens.
I’ll notice a Facebook post or online news story where someone has shared an act of kindness. Sometimes it’s a third party sharing something they’ve witnessed, but it’s often the actual doer of a good deed himself posting the details of the kind act.
Wanting to possibly get more details, or read about people who’ve experienced something similar, I’ll scroll through the comments.
What I find, instead, more and more frequently, is a host of critics attacking the person who committed the good deed for sharing the details. They’re called out for wanting attention, or not being sufficiently humble, or they’re told they’re just looking for people to tell them how wonderful and heroic they are.
The naysayers are vocal and explicit in their condemnation. The position they take is unyielding: anyone who feels the need to share their good deed publicly is obviously attention-seeking, and should take a close look at their motives.
Not doing a good deed is preferable to executing one and then posting all about it.
An Alternative Idea
Most of us are familiar with idea of the “negativity bias.”
Basically, it asserts that humans give more psychological weight to bad experiences than to good ones. I find this especially true in my work; I can receive nine compliments, but it’s the one criticism that sticks with me.
So, yes, while it’s true that out of a hundred comments, ninety-five of them may be positive, it’s the five critical remarks that I, and probably most others, tend to focus on.
It’s these scolding and reproachful comments that make me take pause. Not out of any alliance with their position, but more out of distaste that of all the actions we should be spending our energy policing, this certainly doesn’t feel like one of them.
Cynicism and distrust seem to be having their day in the sun. Happy-go-lucky people and cup-half-full attitudes are often scoffed at, but I believe this wholly and with my entire being: we need to stop shaming people for sharing their good deeds.
I am categorically stating, in fact, that we should actually be encouraging people to be public about their acts of kindness.
Above and Beyond
I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, the world is an absolute dumpster fire of late. From leaders who lack basic leadership skills, to environmental crises to social justice issues, it feels like everything is spinning further and further out of control. Evil seems to be surpassing good.
In a cold world and on a bad day, seeing ordinary people perform extraordinary acts of kindness does my heart and soul good.
I love seeing people go above and beyond. It helps restore my (wavering) faith in humanity and makes me happier, and I imagine it does for you, too.
This goes further than just good feelings, though. Happy people tend to be more giving and more charitable. The happier you are, the more generous you tend to be.
Not only that, but seeing other people’s good deeds encourages me to perform more of my own. Whether that means going out of my way to assist someone in need, or simply paying for the car behind me at Starbucks, knowing that other ordinary people can, and do, make a difference emboldens me to try to do the same.
In social media feeds that seem to be filled with violence, anger, and injustice, seeing people sharing their good works makes me feel as though there’s possibly hope. Hope for our children, hope for our society, hope for our world.
Looking through posts I’ve saved, the overwhelming majority are uplifting and inspiring. We don’t need to be reminded of the evil in the world, it’s out there, loud and proud for all to see. Instead, we need to remember, and be made extravagantly aware, of the good.
It’s out there, it’s just waiting to be shared.
The Potent Power of Unexpected Kindness
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Being Kind Makes Us Happier
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