For the past couple months, I have been thinking about kindness, of the compassionate actions people show one another. I have been thinking of intentional, random, spontaneous, and/or intricately planned acts of kindness, whether toward strangers or with those we know.
The term “random acts of kindness” is one familiar to many of us. One of the great examples of this shared over the internet many times is of a woman buying coffee at a drive through window. She handed the cashier twice the amount and said she was buying for the person in the next car, as well. Then, that person was touched by her generosity and did the same thing. I have heard this act of kindness was repeated by people in the next 78 consecutive vehicles. If I had been working at that window, I would probably have reached for a handkerchief before the second driver arrived. By the way, of all the occurrences I have checked on urban legend sites, this is not one I investigated; the kindness in the story inspires me, whether truth or fiction.
When that story is sent from person to person, each sending is an act of kindness, too.
This past Monday, as we know only too well, truly horrific events occurred during the Boston Marathon. The reason I am mentioning this here and in this moment is because of the acts of kindness the news media is letting us know about. On more than one television channel and radio station, I heard of people running toward the sites of the explosion, to help. If you have been witnessing coverage of the events through print or other venues, you have likely observed accounts of multiple acts of kindness.
Every time there is a catastrophe of any type, there are acts of kindness in the midst of the suffering.
As well, there are many small kindnesses present in everyday life. For example,
• holding a door open
• saying “thank you”
• asking a caring question, and
• listening to the answer.
I believe we can cultivate kindness. I believe I am capable of more kindness than I am currently giving. I endeavor to become more aware of kindness and to become more of an agent for kindness.
I invite anyone reading this blog post to join me in being curious about kindness. We might open our hearts to finding more ways to be kind.
Here are some questions I am allowing to simmer. I welcome your input to growing this list to include more questions:
• What are kindnesses I have been privileged to receive, from those I knew or from strangers?
• What spontaneous impulses have I felt to offer a kindness? I want to remember both when I have and have not taken action following an impulse.
• When I am in a food market, what do I notice of people being kind?
• What opportunities do I see for more kind actions I might take when shopping?
• Do I want to keep an informal list of kindness observations in my journal?
• How about using this topic for conversations with friends and for a writing prompt in group settings?
I suspect I will be doing more written wonderings on this topic. I will be collecting stories and examples shared by friends, readers, family, maybe even by strangers while standing in line at the food market.
I welcome your suggestions, ideas, discoveries, and your memories of examples of kindnesses you have received and kindnesses you have shown.