“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention”.
~ Oscar Wilde
* * *
Is negativity contagious?
If so, is positivity equally as contagious?
How often do we mistakenly believe that we live in a private bubble that doesn’t affect anyone else? How often do we believe that our emotions are felt by us alone?
On the flip side, how often have you been on the receiving end of someone else’s bad day? An aggressive and unnecessary honk on the horn in traffic or an unintentional strong bump without an apology? A rude or unhelpful store attendant or alternatively a rude customer? How do we feel when we walk away from these encounters? Do we feel as though a dark cloud has suddenly appeared above us? Often when two of these encounters coincide in a short period of time, suddenly our day because marked by feelings of having a bad day all of a sudden and nothing seeming to go right. Then does the vicious cycle of negativity follow that those you encounter can then take on the dark cloud you have unexpectedly inherited?
Unsurprisingly, negativity has a habit of lingering… and leaves a particularly unpleasant taste.
How often do we pause to think about the impact our actions and emotions have on another person?
I am not advocating for having artificially happy existences for the sole purpose of keeping everyone else around us happy. We aren’t designed to be feel a monotone of ‘happy’ emotions and we are more than welcome to feel angry, sad, hurt, frustrated – the list is endless! Often, these emotions are the most appropriate and necessary feelings to have depending on the circumstances.
What I am advocating is that we be mindful of the impact of our encounters and the energy we place into the world ~ particularly when considering the bigger picture of life.
Kindness takes but a brief moment to share with another. Whether it be a smile directed at a stranger, the offer of assistance to someone you know that may need it or merely the way in which we interact with others. Checking in and letting others know we are thinking about them. These actions have the power to profoundly impact the life of another without you ever knowing how much – nor do you ever need to know. That is the point of kindness – we aren’t kind to others because we need self gratitude worn as a medal. Kindness is not always about grand gestures with the intention to change the life of another. Perhaps it should just be part and parcel of our days ~ just like breathing with the side effect of having the potential to positively impact the life of another.
Over the weekend, I was fortunate to bare witness to a moment of kindness that struck my heart, warming it completely. I was in a supermarket that has a self service lane. There was a bubbly teenager working in the self-service area. Firstly, I had never seen anyone work so hard in that role! Secondly she did it with such pride of her position and an honest and genuine eagerness to assist people. She bounced between all eight self service registers bagging items for mothers juggling kids; double bagging heavy items for older customers and greeting each and every one of them with a kind and friendly smile. I observed that everyone left those registers with a smile too.
After watching her (in a non creepy way) for some time, a 30-something male with a significantly disability on a motorized chair approached her registers. I watched as she greeted him by name and asked how he was and patiently waited for his response looking directly at him. She acknowledged him as a person and even more than just a customer. She assisted him with his purchase by helping him count out his money and he left with her bidding him farewell and her telling him that she was looking forward to seeing him next week again. The entire interaction took less than two minutes but was a positive two minutes in his world that cost her nothing but a few moments of her time and a positive and kind output. It was an interaction that also left a positive impact upon me ~ a mere bystander who was not in any way involved in the interaction, yet it warmed my heart that there are still genuine and caring people that are carrying humanity forward.
Fortunately, I have been witness to other such humanitarian angels like certain nurses, teachers, lawyers, social workers, people who work in cafes, retail assistants, friends of friends where I have no idea of their profession ~ strangers in the street! Society is peppered with kind people who merely go about their day without knowing the kindness they are bestowing upon others.
Kindness doesn’t require huge amounts of effort nor time ~ kindness merely takes mindful intention in how we carry ourselves in the presence of others; thinking about how we interact with our neighbor souls and every once in a while stepping back and thinking about what our words and actions are contributing to the lives of others and more broadly what it’s contributing to humanity.