(image courtesy of Google images)
I woke up this morning with a feeling of dread. To be completely honest it’s been a difficult week. Unfortunately I have found myself in situations where I or my family has been “put under fire” by random people whom I’ve encountered. I know that we all have off days, weeks, even months, and I am reminded of my blog post on perceptions, perspective and reality from over a year ago where I explored the idea that things are not always as they seem, but this week I have spent most of my time thinking about these negative and upsetting encounters and how, sometimes, we as humans can be real jerks.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am not going to start bashing anyone or their behavior in this blog post, and I am certainly not saying that I am without fault myself. I know that I fit right into the statement which I just made because I can be a real jerk at times too. I like to think though that I try to live my life with dignity and respect for others, that I try very hard to see both sides of the story, and that I handle things in the best way that I can, keeping other people’s feelings in mind. As I have said before, I can say that I honestly try to live by the Golden Rule, to treat others how I would want to be treated and, at the risk of completely patting myself on the back, I believe that I do this pretty successfully, most of the time. However, I can’t speak for others and whether humanity as a whole does the same because up until today my experiences this week have lead me to believe that there are many people who do not give a crap about how others feel.
BUT… rather than focus on those negative experiences and how I’ve questioned why people do what they do, why they decide to say hurtful things when it is completely unnecessary, and why they persist in continuing to verbally “attack” even when politely confronted, I’m going to focus on today and how one simple, kind act made me smile and restored my faith in the kindness of humanity.
It wasn’t a big thing that happened this morning. It wasn’t even that it cost anyone much time, money, or energy to do. What made the most impact on this kind act was that someone thought about me today and did one kind thing to make my day easier and better just because. I am tearing up just thinking about it because today someone made me feel like I was in their thoughts and that my feelings mattered.
This one simple act of kindness has helped to begin to erase the other incidents of ‘attack’ this week. The simple fact that someone would do a thoughtful deed with no self benefit has made me realize that there is still kindness in the hearts of random people.
Many of us have heard about the trends of Random Acts of Kindness (see www.randomactsofkindness.org) and Paying It Forward (see www.pifexperience.org), but how many of us have actually taken the time to do something kind or to pay kindness forward? A random act of kindness is defined as a selfless act performed by a person or people wishing to assist or cheer up an individual person or people (Wikipedia.org). How many of us can actually say that we do kind things without thinking about how it might benefit us at some point in return?
Kindness does not have to be about doing things for others. Kindness can be about staying quiet when you have nothing nice to say, not repeating things that you hear because those words would be hurtful to someone else, and encouraging others to do the same. Kindness is about remembering that others have feelings and that words can cut deeper than a knife. Harsh words may linger and hurt more and longer than you realize and they may affect others more greatly than you know. It only takes a moment to stop and think before you speak or react to something someone else has said. In that moment you can save someone a lot of hurt.
As much as I would love for every one to read this and that suddenly the world might become a kinder place, I realize that this likely isn’t going to happen. So among the many lessons which I have learned this week is that I need to accept that there are people that enjoy negativity and look for opportunities to create conflict. It will depend on how I handle those situations which will determine the outcome of those occurrences. I have learned that there are people who find pleasure in making others feel inadequate and insecure and will say things to attack another’s personality, character, and even their family, but those things may be said out of insecurities and inadequacies of their own. I have also learned that there are still people who are kind and enjoy doing kind things for no other reason other than to just be kind. I have learned to be grateful for those random acts of kindness and the amount of happiness that they can bring to the day.
Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned is that I can demonstrate fortitude (thank you, J) and grace under fire in handling situations where people are unkind and that proves the strength of MY character and MY resilience in handling adversity. I can show kindness to others, even when it is not shown to me, because, at the end of the week, I am the one who needs to look in the mirror and say that I handled each day, good or bad, in the best way that I could. That is ultimately what needs to be remembered.