By ALAINA REICHWALD | Moonshine Ink
A wise friend of mine told me that sometimes she feels so overwhelmed with the need and despair in the world that she concentrates on what she can do in the 20-mile radius around her. She asks herself, “how can I leave my family and community better off each day?” That comment touched me deeply. Each morning when we open our eyes we have another opportunity to leave the world a better place by how we show up. Each act of kindness sends a ripple of positive energy into the world and that energy touches every single person through the ripple effect, including us!
Developing a habit of kindness can take some work at the onset. Culturally, we are often distracted by the intensity of our lives and our endless to-do lists. We often miss moments to offer a kind word or gesture. Do we smile at strangers in the market? Hold doors open for people? Let someone have a much sought after parking spot? Show patience with family members? Or let that lost tourist pass in front of us with a smile and wave?
Most importantly, we are the role models who teach our children how to show empathy and kindness. They learn more from our actions and behaviors than the verbal instruction we give them on how to behave.
Acts of kindness can be large or small or anything in between.
Annually, on Thanksgiving with my extended family, we put together bags of necessities for the homeless in San Francisco and walk around personally looking them in the eye with a smile and passing them out. This is a larger effort that takes time, money, and some planning, but acts of kindness can be small and equally powerful.
Recently, seeing a family about to board a red eye flight with very young screaming children, my initial reaction was irritation (and fear).
Remembering this kindness concept, and recalling that it wasn’t long ago that I had screaming kids on a red eye, I chose instead to engage the family in conversation and with empathy about how difficult (and worth it) it can be to travel with small children. Just this short empathetic exchange seemed to calm their nerves knowing they were not alone in this rite of passage. And it also completely transformed my irritation into compassion.
We make decisions about whether to be kind in every moment.
If we want the world to be a more kind and peace-FULL place, then we must take action to offer kindness out into the world. When many individuals create a little bit of kindness everyday, we create a wave of positive energy that can lift up an individual, family, and community. Why not give it a try?