Over the past several months, I have come across over a couple of dozen acts of kindness in the community. From random strangers helping out people stuck in the ditches to community members raising funds to help families who lost their homes in house fires. People have come together in ways I wouldn’t have thought of.
And all of this, whilst being in the middle of a global pandemic. That for me is what kindness really is.
The past week, recognized as the Random Act of Kindness week, encourages people to indulge in random acts of kindness. Whether it is helping someone cross the road, or help carry someone’s grocery or donating a big chunk of money to an organization; the week is to encourage and recognize kindness.
So today I thought of sharing some of the things I have learned over the past week months, while witnessing kindness all around me.
Kindness isn’t the same as being nice. Being kind is about what your own values and beliefs are and how you choose to act on them while being nice is how other people perceive you. They might not greet you or flash a warm smile when you pass them, but they will drop everything they are doing to help you when you are in need. I have come across such people who are seemingly rude or won’t fit the general definition of “nice” but are the kindest souls you would ever come across.
Kindness also means standing up for what is right. This can cause conflict and arguments and a person who is “nice” always wants to make sure no one is upset and everyone likes them, while a kind person knows that standing up for the right thing would come at the cost of making someone upset.
Kindness comes from the ability to put oneself in others’ shoes. The kids who brainstormed to raise funds for the family whose house burned down in Burns Lake or the community of Houston banding together to help a family rebuild their life from scratch after they lost all their possessions in a fire; all of this comes from a deep understanding of others’ situation and empathy.
Kindness doesn’t always have to be directed towards doing something for someone else. It should start with yourself. Treating yourself with kindness first and foremost, treating yourself the way you’d want others to treat you, is very crucial too.
Kindness doesn’t have to be a grand gesture; a small act of kindness like the little girl who raised five dollars by doing household chores, for a kid in Ethiopia, is still an act of kindness. It could be as simple as complimenting someone, remembering their name, asking how someone is doing and if they are OK.
As adults, it is our responsibility to lead by example so the generations following us know what kindness means and looks like. So, what random act of kindness did you do today?