Paying It Forward
In our world where everything is constantly changing and shifting, much of the change results in anxiety and fear. As we remember all of the things weather-related that happened in recent years: earthquakes, tsunami, tornadoes, fires, rains and floods; these events left so many people devastated and even more people in fear. Other changes include changes in our governmental policies, new heads of state and other political systems throughout the world.
During all the events of last year and those so far this year, people are still dealing with doubt and fear, many on a daily basis. One thing that tends to be of help to people when they are feeling doubtful and fearful while going through difficult times, is kindness.
When we are kind to people, we feel better. When we are kind to people, they feel better. Yes, it is so simple. And kindness, like most of the glorious things about enjoying life, is simple.
One day last year I came across the words, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Two things came to mind:
- A lot of people do not love themselves
- Some people are just hard to love
Through my work, I have encountered many people who have difficulty loving themselves, even though they think no one knows. So, more than likely, it would be extremely hard for them to love their neighbor. And I have encountered a few people who are darned hard to love, yet I can be kind to them.
Start first by being kind to you. Love and kindness start from within. The more you can do to take care and honor yourself, know that you are worthy of loving and being loved, the more you can share those feelings with those around you. You can do simple things such as taking time for your self-care. Many women tell me they don’t have time to take care of themselves and I gently remind them that they can’t give from an empty cup, an empty body, mind, spirit; that to do all the things expected of them, they must put themselves at the top of the priority list. It takes practice adding new habits.
Simple acts of kindness for you to do—have some fun, laugh, play. This can take many forms, but make sure you do some of these regularly. Take care of your body. Do the best you can to do a better job and do not beat yourself up when you don’t. By doing so, it will be easier to be kind to others.
Second, it is difficult to love some people, yet I have found in my experience, I can be kind to them. One of the first requirements is to step back and not judge them—no matter what—everyone is basically doing the best they can. Just because we don’t do things the same way doesn’t make us right and them wrong. There is always more than one way to solve a problem or address any issue.
I think that the more we can be, or say, or do, kind things for people, the more they have hope in the present and the future. We don’t know what others are going through – we all wear a mask rarely ever revealing what we are really going through; we tend to make judgments based upon what we see. So, I recommend as you make that judgment to catch yourself, step back, let go of the judgment and offer kindness.
One thing I have learned is that being kind to people gives them hope, gives them a “You made my day” attitude. Simple things can make such a powerful difference.
What are some of the acts of kindness you can do? Here are a few:
Smile at everyone you encounter. Open the door for people. Bring your neighbor’s garbage can in from the street or pick up their paper and put it at their front door. Take a friend flowers, wine, a gift for no reason. Leave an extra-large tip and tell the server you appreciate them. Pay the toll for the person behind you – same for any drive-through. Write a note to a teacher who means a lot to you. When you say, “Please, thank you, I’m sorry” mean it with all your heart. Write a note to your children and tell them how much you love them. And write a note to your parents, let them know what a positive impact they had on you becoming the person you are today. Help your friend – pack for a move, paint a room, plant some plants, take them dinner – just because. Buy lunch for a homeless person or give them a knitted hat and scarf for the winter. Smile more.
You see, it really is easy to be kind, it just takes practice.
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