“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” ~ Mark Twain
While I have been contemplating writing about kindness for sometime, I was recently the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness, which prompted me to write this post now.
As I have mentioned before, one of the many reasons I enjoy Instagram is because it has allowed me to meet so many lovely, like-minded individuals. I often receive thoughtful, encouraging words and am able to offer those same words in kind. I turn to this forum regularly as an antidote to the negativity that exists in this world.
Through Instagram and a mutual love of Jennifer L. Scott’s books and blog, I met Tiffany several months ago and since then, we have corresponded often. Lately, our conversations have focused around Jennifer’s latest publication, Polish Your Poise. We have been chatting about this book since its release and we love it.
Fast forward to a few days ago, when I returned home from a long day at work to find a parcel in my mailbox. Often, the contents of my mailbox consists of junk mail and bills, so I am always elated to find gifts or cards in their place. I anxiously opened the parcel to find a small package wrapped in pretty pink paper, with a handwritten note enclosed. Beneath the wrapping, I uncovered a copy of Polish Your Poise, signed by the author, Jennifer. Knowing my love of Jennifer’s books and her message, Tiffany contacted a bookstore (thousands of miles from where I live) that had recently hosted Jennifer’s book signing. They were able to send her two autographed copies, one of which she then sent to me. I love my autographed copy and display it proudly on my desk. I was and am truly moved by Tiffany’s kind gesture and am fortunate to know her.
Kindness itself is defined as behaviour marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others. It is known as a virtue and considered a value in many cultures and faiths. Further, the act of kindness is defined as a spontaneous gesture of goodwill towards someone or something.
For me, the beauty of kindness is that it can be as simple or as extravagant as you wish. It can be planned months in advance or thought of and executed in a single moment. It can be offered to a loved one or a stranger, it often costs nothing and can change the course of someone’s life.
However, when kindness is offered, it should be genuine. It should come from a place of giving and should not be offered with a concern for its return.
In the spirit of this post, I offer you four simple ways you can sprinkle a little kindness into the lives of others:
Give someone a hug – When I hear the word kindness, I immediately think of a warm embrace. Giving someone a hug costs nothing and takes very little effort, but the impact is significant. Scientific evidence suggests that hugs naturally reduce stress, lower blood pressure and help to release the hormone oxytocin, otherwise known as “the cuddle hormone”. Oxytocin promotes feelings of trust and bonding and helps us connect with one another. Look at all of the kindness you can bestow with one little hug!
Listen to someone with genuine interest, concern and compassion – The next time you ask someone how they are doing, or how their weekend was, give them your full attention. We so often converse with others based on a social obligation, rather than out of genuine care and interest. We ask others how they are doing, but do we really listen? In a world of deadlines and distractions, take a few minutes, put down that cell phone and truly connect with someone. Who knows, a few minutes of uninterrupted attention may spark a new friendship! We can always use more of those.
Compliment someone in a meaningful way – When the occasion arises, compliment a colleague, peer, family member or stranger. Perhaps your nephew receives an A+ on their report card. Acknowledge their hard work. Maybe your colleague receives a promotion. Congratulate them on their success and wish them well. It could be that your friend is sporting a lovely new shirt that makes their eyes sparkle. Tell them how fabulous they look and mean it! Often, people are all too quick to point out the mistakes we make, where we went wrong, or how we do not measure up. Change that conversation in a positive way and it will certainly make someone’s day.
Greet someone with a sincere and pleasant hello – Saying hello is so simple, yet so powerful. According to estimates by John T. Cacioppo, coauthor of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, at any given time, at least one in five people suffer from loneliness. While some would argue that we live in a world of constant connectivity, I would argue that this “connectivity” has spurred a lack of true connection to one another. Many of us do live lonely lives even when surrounded by others. When you say hello to someone, you acknowledge them. You show them that they are worthy of being acknowledged, that they are important and that they are not alone. Those five letters could change someone’s life forever, so use them often.
If you are reading this right now, I’m sure you are already well-versed in the art of kindness. Having said that, I challenge you to add even more kindness to the lives of others this week. Need a little more inspiration? Check these out:
Thank you for stopping by and be kind to one another.
“Be good to people. You will be remembered more for your kindness than any level of success you could possibly attain.” ~ Mandy Hale