Kindness isn’t like the flu shot; you need to incorporate it into your daily life.
I get asked a lot, “How can you be kind all the time? Isn’t it exhausting?”
The truth of the matter is that kindness is a part of myself, like an arm or leg. Through daily acts of kindness, I’ve made it a habit and it’s something I don’t even think about anymore. But it wasn’t always like that.
I can remember a time when I weighed everything I did by what it would get me in return. I loved to be loved. I did someone a favor expecting a favor in return. I gave money away to get it back in return. Everything I did was calculated into an invisible ledger. Kindness didn’t even factor into my life, and I was an important member of my church.
Then I met Jack. He was a co-worker at the bookstore I was managing. He and I got along great. We hung out all the time after work and one day he invited me to go with him to a “thing”. I wasn’t sure what it was but I said sure. He gave me directions and I met him. I looked up at the sign and it said:
Rainbow Outreach: Free to be Yourself
Hugs Free of Charge
It was a safe haven for LGTB youth and young adults. I had never been to one before and truth be told, I almost bolted.
What am I doing here? Sure, I believe in equal rights and the gay/lesbian lifestyle but what can I do?
Jack waved for me to come in from the window. It was too late to run. So I decided to stay for a few minutes, for Jack’s sake. What harm could it do?
I spent the next few hours there and it totally changed my outlook on life and kindness. These kids were like me and had troubles and insecurities, too. They were looking to be loved but didn’t expect anything in return. The biggest thing they taught me was to be kind, to each other and to perfect strangers. They took me in and made me feel loved without expecting love in return.
From that moment on, I chucked my invisible ledger and tried to incorporate kindness into my routine. I started small, opening doors for people, smiling and saying good morning, that kind of thing. It was hard at first because there are mean-spirited people in the world and they would take advantage of my kindness. I wanted to last out at them but I didn’t. I just poured on more kindness.
Kindness is a good habit to form and the results are impressive. Being kind to others takes getting used to but soon it will come natural to you, like breathing.
Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.
Make kindness a habit.