I was checking out at Target a couple of weeks ago. I was distracted and flustered and worried about getting my $10 gift card for purchasing $60 in diapers. I wasn’t paying attention to the woman checking me out until she said, “Are you Lee?”.
I paused, looked at her, and to my surprise, she was one of my many friends that I have never met.
*Brief digression* I have long participated in online communities for members of the adoption triad, parents whose children have special needs, and more recently, writers. I have added many friends to my Facebook profile that I have never met in real life. People who don’t have this type of connection on the internet often fail to understand the depth and breadth of these friendships, but I’m here to tell you, they are entirely real and wonderful; especially for a socially anxious introvert.
Back to the story.
Knowing that I had been distracted by minor details, I panicked. Had I been treating this person the way I would want to treat her, now that I knew it was someone I had considered a friend for years? I mentally reviewed my demeanor, and though I fully admit that I wasn’t on my A game, I hadn’t mistakenly been a jerk to my friend.
One of my core values is kindness. I am convinced that if everyone committed to being as kind as possible to everyone that the world would be a better place. In that brief moment that I checked myself, I resolved to re-commit myself to acting out kindness to the best of my ability to my fellow travelers.
I see it this way, everyone has burdens on their back. Some have a few, light burdens, most of us have a moderate load, with times of heaviness, and some carry a constant, enormous load. With every interaction, we possess the ability to either add to the load of others by rude, unkind or blunt words; or take from the load with kindness, smiles and encouragement. Either way, it costs us nothing.
I have been working very occasional barista shifts at a white-collar workplace. When I started, the first thing I noticed was the culture of kindness in this workplace. Every time I work I hear compliments sprinkled about generously, smiles and niceties exchanged, and encouragement given. Even when I have made mistakes, I have been met with gentleness and support. By the end of a shift, I feel as though I could fly, the power of a culture of kindness is palpable.
I think it’s important to add, that your own kindness benefits you as well. Being nice is one of life’s truly win/win scenarios. Just like smiling improves your mood, so does kindness. There is incredible power in giving tiny bits of yourself in acts of goodness.
With the holiday season afoot, it is certainly a time to spread goodwill and cheer. However, many are struggling and stressed, making your simple act of kindness a profound contribution to their lives. Don’t take it lightly.