Another reason to subscribe to positive pages on your social media. I saw this quote and couldn’t help but share it with all of you. Stop and think about this for a moment. A stranger somewhere is remembering your kindness. How does that make you feel? For me, it makes my heart feel warm and happy knowing that I positively affected someone. Not to turn this into an altruistic post, but one of the benefits of helping others with no expectation in return is the fact that it does help us…feel better.
As a matter of practice, I do my best to be as nice as I can to everyone I meet. There are people who are fighting silent battles that we are often unaware of. It is important to help these wonderful folks especially. How, you might ask, are we to help people who are fighting battles we are unaware of if we are, well…unaware of them? The simple answer? Be kind to everyone. This is easy when it comes to those who serve us. This can be the person who takes our order at the coffee shop (this is where this piece is currently being written) to the person helping us find something we are looking for at the store. There are also jobs that we should be thankful for that either get overlooked or looked down on. Have you ever had to pass through security at the airport or going into a sporting event or concert? Is it a pain in the butt? Sure. Are they doing their job and also keeping us safe? The answer is also yes. These folks often get told less than pleasant things. Imagine how much it would mean if someone showed them an act of kindness? What jobs do you think fit this category?
What about those people who seemingly do not deserve our kindness? The people who are quick to anger or just sunshine-challenged to begin with? Should we be nice to them? Absolutely! This can be one of the hardest things to do, but I am going to share two things to keep in mind that might make that easier. The first may sound cliché, but I am going to share a story that really drove the point home for me. Let us do our best to remember that we never know what someone is going through. They could be in the midst of a break up or divorce. Maybe they just lost their job? In the case of Stephen Covey, the author and educator, maybe it would be best to keep this in mind before we open our mouths. There is a story where Stephen was on the subway and there was a father who was letting his kids run around, yell and just cause trouble. At first, Mr. Covey did his best to ignore the children, but as time went on the father seemed to be doing a better job of being oblivious to the children’s actions than he was, Stephen found himself becoming more and more annoyed. Not wanting to spend his entire subway journey this way, he finally spoke up. “Do you think maybe you should do something about those kids?” he asked the father. He did not get the reply he expected. “Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Truth is they just lost their mother and I am not sure they know how to deal with it. As a matter of fact, neither do I.” Can you imagine how terrible Stephen felt? He learned a valuable lesson that day. We never completely know why people act the way that they do.
What about those folks who act that way because they are unpleasant human beings? Those people who act miserably for the simple fact that they like others to be miserable? We really shouldn’t be nice to those people should we? Yep! It is my belief that nobody is mean or unkind to others without some story behind it. For the sake of argument, let us just pretend we couldn’t know or find it. This is often the case when the person who is being unkind is a total stranger.
There are a few reasons I keep in mind when I am doing my best impersonation of a sorcerer and trying to conjure up a spell of kindness. It is fun to imagine what happens hours later when these folks are not in our presence. Often, they can end up feeling guilty they were so unpleasant to someone who was still kind to them. Kind of hard to justify being a jerk to someone who is nice. I imagine that their guilt may help them change their behavior in the future. It may also destroy one of the main reasons people try to excuse themselves for treating people unkindly. They believe, or at least say it to justify their actions, that the world is mean, out to get them or self-serving. How can they say that when someone they were cruel to was nice to them? Sometimes they will just be mad that they could not accomplish their goal of making someone upset. I am not going to lie, that does make me smile. Knowing I ruined someone’s plans of trying to make the world a little more miserable makes me a little more happy. Here is a bonus thought. The abuse you took at the hands of this person could have been bestowed on someone who would have been less able to handle. it. Like the father in the story above. Can you imagine being screamed at after you have just lost someone you love? So, if we can absorb that so someone else doesn’t have to, we are doing a most unique public service.
Do what the Dalai Lama advises is to do – always be kind. I think we have outlined several reasons to do so above. If you have other reasons you can think of to be kind, or a story of when you were kind to a stranger, or even when a stranger was kind to you, please share them in the comments below.