An addictive kindness
Over the past year I’ve been more and more interested in investigating, reading and learning about the quality of kindness. I’ve written quite a few blogs about kindness now, including cyber-kindness.
Kindness is something we often give and take for granted for those close to us. When we are lucky enough to have people we are close to, being kind to those we love (and receiving kindness from those who love us) seems almost second nature.
We can be in a blessedly fortunate relationship and yet come to expect kindnesses from our partners, parents, children, friends. It just becomes a routine way of life to help each other and support each other through difficult times.
Sometimes it take a kindness from someone not so close, an acquaintance, someone we’ve only just met to show us just what kindness is all about, to show us just how extraordinarily breathtaking kindness can be.
A breathtaking kindness
This interest in kindness was kindled by a colleague I really didn’t know very well at all. He’d fallen into my work life seemingly by accident and was there just at the moment I was falling into a crisis. He listened to me. Told me some facts I didn’t know. Reviewed some policies for me. Called me between his own busy schedule to check I was OK. He really helped me move from helplessness to seeking solutions and finding a way forward.
Maybe it doesn’t sound so exciting now, but when you are in some level of distress and a person you don’t even know that well gives you time and caring and helps you move forward – that to me is a breathtakingly big thing. So breathtaking I wrote my first blog in honour of this.
And while of course my family supported me at this time, it was the kindness of an almost (but not quite) stranger that really started me thinking.
What I started to find was that once I was more aware of kindness I started to see it everywhere. Here are just some acts of kindness from outside my immediate family and close friends that have taken my breath away over the past few months:
- My coach (who I’ve written about a few times previously) helped keep me steady which in turn helped me keep my business steady over the period of moving and settling into Melbourne. Again, it may not sound much, but he spent a lot of time listening to things not necessarily related to coaching with such empathy, that the listening itself was imbued with kindness and helpful beyond measure. Kindness, he showed me exists in the stillness between breaths.
- My twitter friend Dr K, who not only helped me find medical care in Melbourne, but has since included me in her GP learning circle and taken me out for coffee. K showed me kindness with warmth and humour.
- My contacts from a Facebook business group I belong to who have been so generous with advice, in particular J who spent time helping me with my fledgling website for no reason other than he wanted to. This is real cyber-kindness.
- My newest LinkedIn friend, I – who has inspired me in the level of kindness she performs for others even in the midst of her own crisis. I, you have been more kind to me than you can ever know.
- All my new Melbourne friends who welcomed us with such generosity of spirit when we were still strangers. Some of you bring kindness to a new level in hospitality, in inclusiveness, in acceptance. How truly blessed am I to see this level of kindness in friendship, in love for a friend.
With all these kindnesses, I stand a little taller, feel a little lighter, have more energy and am more able to grow and flourish. A kindness, it seems, has a powerful effect, exponentially larger itself.
And friends, what has happened to me, is I can’t contain all this and keep it to myself. A kindness received, is only half alive if you keep it to yourself. A kindness truly comes alive when it is shared and passed on to others. Without even really trying I have found opportunity on opportunity to be kind to people all around me in all types of contexts. At home, with family, with friends, with colleagues, in cyberspace…and to myself.
It’s becoming an addictive habit this kindness. A smile here, a hug there, a like, a reassurance, a heard pain, a shared laugh. One can be kind in so many ways and it often is free to give and can take but a moment of time. Yet this small investment reaps huge rewards when you see someone stand a little taller, smile a little wider, let a little weight fall off their shoulders.
I’m still a novice – and wince more than I used to when I hear a harshness from myself, or miss an opportunity to be kind. But how amazing to even have an awareness of these things that used to just pass me by.
And now it’s your turn. Think for a moment how you felt the last time someone did a kindness to you – something small or something big. Whether deserved or undeserved it usually feels good. And the person who helps you is likely feeling good too. So now you’ve truly connected over a shared kindness.
A small act of goodness and kindness has an impact way beyond what you think. So how could you connect to others around you with just a little more kindness? What small thing could you do to make someone else’s day (and make your own too)? What will it be?