Updated: May 27, 2020
You cannot do kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late - Ralph Waldo Emerson
These are some strange times we are living in right now. I really have to restrain myself from looking at the news. I have to stop myself from feeling angry when I see fellow citizens who are not wearing masks out in public, or maintaining social distancing. I am not sure how well you know me, but I am THAT person who likes to talk to anyone, ask how they are doing, find some way to help them, or make them feel good about themselves. It doesn't matter who this person is (well, maybe not someone who clearly doesn't want to engage. I can read body language, silly.) So, because of Covid 19, one of the hardest parts for me has been the fact that people cant see me smiling at them because of the mask I am wearing. I often forget this, and say something kind or funny, and wonder why they didn't smile back! Then I remember that they can't see my smile! The smile makes up, like, 80% of the affect. Maybe they can sense my smile with my eyes...but how often is it that we cannot see someone's smile? Now I have to hope that they can see my smile through my eyes? This is a lot of pressure. I am now actively working on improving how well I smile with my eyes. Don't think I don't practice in the mirror daily.
My Dad was a great example of what kindness looks like for me. Everywhere he went, the people knew him! They remembered him! They knew his name (I can hear the "Cheers" theme song here..). Anywhere he went, he connected with people, wearing that beaming smile of his, and always had a joke at the ready. He was always so patient, caring, helpful, and understanding of others. He never took anything too seriously, unless it needed to be taken seriously. He exuded Zen. I didn't quite understand the importance of this when I was younger, but looking back, I want to be just like him. I can remember quite a few specific instances that always brings a smile to my face when ever I think of them, but I will just share two.
First, my Dad was a Dr. Pepper enthusiast. Dr. Pepper coursed through his veins, specifically Cherry. At my neighborhood CVS, where we frequented for his weekly Dr. Pepper supply, my Dad had such a great relationship with the people that worked there that they ordered it SPECIFICALLY for him, and placed it in the back, RESERVED FOR RICHARD. Of course, a few times I went in to get his supply for him, not knowing his "celebrity" status. I casually walked up to the register, and mentioned that I was there to pick up the Cherry Dr. Pepper for my Dad. "Oh, RICHARD is your DAD?!! How is he doing?....". This person, whom had helped me check out before, had never acted this friendly towards me EVER. I was blown away! My Dad?! All of those lovely people LOVED my Dad. It felt so nice!
Secondly, when my parents moved to Pflugerville, Texas (that's right outside Austin, by the way), they had their NEW regular CVS. I am not kidding when I tell you that this man, almost over night, made friends with every single pharmacy employee there. Up until the day he passed away, every time I was picking something up from the pharmacy, they would see my last name and know exactly who I was, and ask how my Dad was doing.
That was his Superpower. I hope at least, that I have inherited this Power. I will follow his path, and we will call it Richardism (Richards was his name, by the way). I should warn though, if you so decide to follow him as well, it will take you stepping out of your comfort zone sometimes. It will take you not thinking about yourself for a moment, trying to read someone, or connect with someone, to listen to someone, so that you can make them feel good or heard or cared about for even just one moment. Sometimes, this won't go the way you want. Sometimes, people dont want to interact with you. Sometimes, people aren't used to someone being nice to them, so they will ignore you or tell you to leave them alone. Sometimes (which is annoying), this person will be a man, and you might be a woman, and they will take your kindness and assume you are flirting with them (this is not true).
BUT, sometimes, this interaction could make someone's day. Sometimes, this could turn their whole boat around! A laugh, a smile, these mean so much. Did you know that kindness is actually contagious? Also, kindness lowers your stress hormones (cortisol), your level of anxiety, your blood pressure, and your pain (it creates endorphins in the body, the brain's natural painkiller!). It also increases your lifespan, your energy level, stimulates your body's production of serotonin (your natural antidepressant), and increases oxytocin (your love hormone). This benefits both the giver of kindness and the receiver of kindness.
Something else I would like to mention is: please be kind to yourself. Some of the ways that I like to be kind to myself include: feeding myself nutrient dense foods, talking to myself in gentle ways (especially when I make mistakes or am angry with said non-mask wearers), watching or listening to something that makes me laugh, writing what I am grateful for, giving myself compliments (this takes practice because we are so used to tearing ourselves down), letting myself rest/take a nap, going for walks and listening to something good for my brain, reading, yoga, meditation, putting on something that makes me feel beautiful, music, etc. This will look different for everyone, but it is so much easier to be kind to others when we can be kind to ourselves. Find ways to be kind to yourself, and it will come more organically to be kind to others.
“I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I’ll put it before any of the things like courage, or bravery, or generosity, or anything else… Kindness—that simple word. To be kind—it covers everything, to my mind. If you’re kind that’s it.” - Roahl Dahl
I am almost positive that you have read other articles or posts about kindness. THE Brene Brown (one of my favorite persons) talks a lot about it, and compassion. I am just sharing my perspective. We are all humans, just going about our lives. When you meet someone, assume that you don't know their story at all, and come from that non-judgmental place, and try to connect. See someone that needs help? Help them. Waiting in a long line? Talk to the person in front or behind you. Ask how their day is going. Talk to your servers, cashiers, service workers. Ask them how THEY are doing. Give a courtesy waive (those are my favorite). Make eye contact with the homeless, and give if you can. If you can't give, at least acknowledge their existence. Just connect with someone today!
The world needs you to be a little more kind. Just a little. The more you do it, the better this place we live in will be.