“But Mom,” my son said as he looked up at me with tearful eyes after a particularly tough day at school. “What good is kindness anyway? I mean I try; I really try to choose kindness, but where does it get me? It seems that I don’t get anything back from it.” My heart broke a bit and I felt tears sting my own eyes. How could I convey the importance of the question that he had just asked me? How could I answer him in a way that would adequately express the power of choosing kindness? I searched my heart and said a little prayer, but I don’t think that I answered his question as fully as I wanted to. My son, let me tell you more about what can happen when you choose kindness.
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Kindness is Of the Greatest Forces in the World.
You won’t always be the best. You may never be the fastest runner or the smartest kid in the class. The recognition that you seek may never come. You may not get the first place award, or win a grand prize, but you can always choose kindness. That is something that no one can ever take from you. Kindness always stands out, even when it is done quietly. It has the power to change the world, starting with one person. Kindness can save and transform lives.
Kindness is a language that all people recognize. It knows no barriers in language or culture but is the universal language of one person to another. Kindness is the language of the heart. It sparks a connection between two people. Kindness and charity are so intertwined it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart. Charity is love in action. It’s one of the things that the Bible speaks of, and in the book of John, it says that God is Love and Love is of God. (I John 4:7) That is what we are doing when we choose to show kindness to one another. We are letting the love of God in our hearts shine out. It does not matter whether we get anything in return or not. We are better for having practiced kindness.
You May Not See the Results Yourself
Sometimes you might do a random act of kindness and see results from it. Other times, you may leave with no idea how you impacted the person that you were trying to help. I once grew my hair out, and then donated it to “Locks of Love” which is an organization that makes wigs for children that have lost their hair due to chemotherapy. I have no idea where my hair went. The last time I saw it, it was in a manila envelope that I deposited in the mailbox. That’s ok. I know that I chose kindness and that someone is going to benefit from it.
The “Hopeless” Project
Kindness may not always make sense to those around you. Your loved ones may not always understand what you are doing or why. Several years ago, my husband took on a project to restore the local community center. When he came home from an organizational meeting and I asked him how it went, he responded to me that he had been elected chairman. Dumfounded I said, “Oh. My. What have you gotten us into?” The building was a wreck. There were exposed electrical wires, ancient cabinets with rat droppings, questionable bathrooms, no hot water, and no heating or cooling. In short, the place looked hopeless. The starting renovations budget: $200.
He dedicated Saturday after Saturday to working up there, oftentimes alone. I did not understand and was resentful of the time that, in my mind, was family time taken away from us. It took him 3 years, but he and his board did it. They restored the building. Now about once a month or every few months, there is a community event held in that building. We have had a catfish fry, chili suppers, spaghetti suppers, dessert auctions, cook-outs, even a breakfast for supper event once. I did not realize how much the community needed that building. Nor did I realize or understand at the time, that he was unselfishly giving of himself, his time, and money to something that would benefit so many. I think (and hope) that having the community center has strengthened the bonds of the community.
What Happens if No One Steps Up?
While restoring a building may not seem like a traditional way to choose kindness, stop and think, what would have happened had he not stepped up? More than likely, the roof would have caved in, and the historic building would be in ruins. The whole project has been a huge eye-opener for me. When you start doing something out of kindness or that you feel that you have been called to do, things start happening in a chain reaction. Community members gave of their time and money to help, we started to feel that we were really a part of the community. We got to know our neighbors that are now our friends. The community center experience has had a profound impact on OUR lives.
What is the Meaning of Kindness?
When I googled the definition of kindness, the definition that popped up was a fairly simple one. It simply stated, “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” I also looked it up in Urbandictionary.com and I loved their top definition of kindness. It said, “Kindness is doing something and not expecting anything in return. Kindness is respect and helping others without waiting for someone to help one back. It implies kindness no matter what.” and referenced the “Fruits of the Spirit Passage from the Bible in Galatians 5:22-23.
Many times, people may not return our kindness. That’s what my son was referencing. It had been a really rough day for him. Rough days happen from time to time. It’s hard to be kind to someone and not get anything back. With kindness, you may not get anything back immediately, but as my boss from my first job was fond of saying, “What goes around, comes around.” You may be kind to someone and they scoff and not return it. They may act like they don’t notice. But odds are, they do notice and are pretending not to.
We are presented with many opportunities to be kind. It may be as simple as smiling at a stranger, greeting someone by name, taking a cart back at the grocery store after you are done with it, leaving someone an encouraging note, or performing a random act of kindness. It all matters. Little things can add up to make a tremendous difference.
What are the Benefits of Kindness?
Did you know that kindness can be good for your health? It’s true! Choosing kindness is not only good for the person that receives it but also the person that performs the act. When you are kind to other people, your brain releases certain “feel good” chemicals. One of these is serotonin. It’s a neurotransmitter that has to do with pleasure centers in your brain. It also has some other health benefits, such as:
- Easing anxiety– we get a positive effect when we are kind to others. This has been shown to lower social anxiety.
- Heart-healthy – Kindness releases the hormone oxytocin as well, which has been shown to help lower blood pressure.
- Reduces Stress – Remember those 2 hormones we mentioned above that kindness prompts your brain to release? Oxytocin and Serotonin? They also function to help reduce stress.
Why Is Kindness Important?
When I was a teen, I got the first “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book. It has now turned into a series, but one of the stories that I read in it still sticks with me when I think of the importance of kindness. It is written by John W. Schlatter and found on page 36. I will paraphrase it for you.
Paraphrased Story from “Chicken Soup for the Soul” as I remember it:
One day a boy, Mark, was walking home from school when the boy in front of him tripped. The boy’s things went flying everywhere, which looked to be pretty much the entire contents of his locker. Mark went to help the boy pick up his books and as they picked up books they started talking and discovered that they lived near each other. The boy with the books said his name was Bill.
Bill’s house came up first and he invited Mark inside. They had a snack and hung out until it was time for Mark to go home. The boys remained friends, seeing one another at school and having lunch together a few times.
Mark did not know till many years later, but that day that they had met, he had saved Bill’s life. Bill had emptied out his locker and was carrying all his things home because he had been planning to kill himself that night. He felt that he had no friends, no one cared, and everything was going wrong in his life. He cleaned out his locker because he wanted to leave it clean for the next person.
When Bill’s books went tumbling and Mark ran and helped him pick them up and they spent that evening hanging out, Bill changed his mind.
That, my friend, is the power of kindness.
Random Acts of Kindness
I have both given and received random acts of kindness. Both receiving and choosing kindness are humbling and heartwarming. Rest assured, random acts of kindness can have profound effects on others. Some of my favorite random acts of kindness include:
- Putting coins in other people’s parking meters. ( My favorite part about this one was my son asking “Mom, WHAT are you doing?!” )
- Letting someone go in front of you in the checkout line at the store
- Thanking a teacher with a gift
- Sending an email to someone that made a difference in your life (This one may not be entirely random, but it will mean a great deal to the recipient.)
- Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant, or the person behind you in the drive-thru line
- Hold the door open for someone
- Smile at a stranger
- Help a Senior with their groceries
- Visit a Senior (They often suffer from loneliness. You won’t “mess their day up” by visiting. You will most likely make their day.)
- Shovel snow off a neighbor’s drive or walk
- Do a favor without asking anything in return
- Put stray shopping carts in the cart corral
- Bring donuts to your co-workers
- Send a care package or a letter to a soldier
- Participate in a fundraiser for a charitable cause
- Leave an encouraging quote or message on a sticky note on someone’s car
- Spend quality time with someone you love
- Give someone a sincere compliment
If you still need some inspiration, here are my favorite quotes on kindness:
- “No act of kindness, however small is wasted.” – Aesop
- “Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain
- “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” – William Arthur Ward
- “Together we can change the world, just one random act of kindness at a time.” -Ron Hall
- “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.” – Audrey Hepburn
- “Kindness is loving people more than they deserve.” – Joseph Joubert
- “Kindness is always fashionable, and always welcome.” – Amelia Barr
Kindness stories are some of the most heartwarming I have ever read. Just reading about other people’s experiences with kindness and the impact that it has on other people give me a warm fuzzy feeling, and sometimes even brings a tear to my eye. Choosing kindness can be something very little, or something very big. Even small acts of kindness can change people’s lives. You may not always be recognized for your kindness towards others, but that’s not why we should do them in the first place. Especially with the holiday season approaching, I urge you to choose kindness. Spread a little love. Make the world just a little bit nicer place. <3 Happy Questing!
I’d love to hear your kindness stories, whether they be something that you have done, had done for you, or your favorite one that you have read about or heard of. Leave me a comment below!