I usually write about writing. Sometimes I brag on myself for my writing accomplishments. I’m good for a self plug every once in a while. And occasionally, I pull out a topic I think is important, and exercise my thoughts on the matter. Today is one of those days.
Remember back in December, when I wrote The Art of Friendship? It touched on a specific avenue of practicing kindness. Today, I’m taking that idea to 10,000 feet so that we can discuss the general idea of being a decent person.
Saturday, I bought a new car. That basically means I spent several hours in the dealership signing forms. It’s a long, boring process that requires alternating doses of coffee and water. It also involves people other than myself, the customer.
As we sat in the finance manager’s office, I felt myself getting parched. So, while our helpful finance manager was pulling up some information, I excused myself to grab a bottle of water from the complimentary drink fridge in the customer lounge. I asked my husband if he wanted one. And then I asked the finance manager if he wanted one. He looked shocked, stammered for a second, and then said, “Yes! That would be great!”
He was very excited over that bottle of water.
So I brought the waters in, handed them out, and resumed signing myself up for a monthly payment. About five minutes later, the finance manager says, “Thanks again for the water. You’re the first customer to ever ask me if I wanted some.”
He’s been a finance manager for car dealerships for eight years. And I was the first. Ever. In eight years!
I’m sorry, but what is wrong with people? How is it that we can go through our lives without thinking of the simple needs of our fellow man? Is it entitlement? Do people think that because he’s the employee and they are the customers that they are somehow entitled to not think of others? Is it obliviousness? Do people just not think about others and what they might want or need?
Being kind doesn’t have to mean doing Very Big Things. What it does mean is placing the needs of others right up there with our own. It means looking outside ourselves and asking, “How can I be of service to others?”
Being kind is….
… grabbing an extra bottle of water for the guy who is helping you with your car loan.
… picking up the scarf that the lady on the bus didn’t realize she’d dropped.
… holding the door for someone whose arms are loaded.
… offering to help carry something for that loaded-down person.
… greeting a stranger with a smile and wish for a nice day.
… exercising patience with the new cashier at the grocery store.
… telling a new mother that you’ve been there when her baby won’t stop crying in the line at the bank.
… sitting with the new kid in school, or taking the new employee to lunch.
… asking someone how their day is going, and then truly listening.
… putting your phone away and interacting with your friends and family.
Sure, kindness can also be volunteering at your local food bank or homeless shelter. It can be generous donations to the charity of your choice. But in terms of every-day kindness, it’s the little things that count.
Think of others as you would yourself.
Be generous with your actions, attention and smiles.
Be slow to judge and quick to forgive.
Allow others the space to be themselves, and appreciate the diversity that is all around you.
Know that we’re all in this life together, and that every life matters.
Then pull out generous handfuls of kindness, and sprinkle that shit everywhere.