04 November 2010

Kindness in the Little Ways

I become more and more convinced as time goes on that the best way that we can show kindness in our lives is through the little ways.  I don’t believe that they need to be “random acts of kindness,” though those most certainly are beautiful expressions of our potential.  But the acts of kindness that we perform don’t have to be exceptional, and they don’t have to break the bank to be effective or welcome.

Recently I’ve been watching for kindness in life, just so that I can be aware of the forms it takes and the effects it has on other people.  And I’ve seen a lot of it, I’m glad to say–much more than any pessimist would ever say is possible in the world.  In fact, I see that it seems to be second nature for most people to help out when someone needs help, to give when giving seems to be needed, and to encourage when it looks like encouragement could be helpful or useful.  Even without events like birthdays or Christmas being a factor, I see people sharing compliments and helpfulness, people filling other people’s needs.  I see my students sharing their paper and pencils and food without even thinking about it, because someone else has expressed a need.  I see adults holding doors and giving compliments and offering to help out with needed projects.

But more importantly, I see the results of the kindness.  The recipient doesn’t always seem to recognize that a kindness has been performed, and doesn’t always acknowledge the fact, but I can see the relief that’s there when someone has been helped out and has lost a worry, when someone no longer has to concern themselves with certain issues.  I’ve seen the smiles that result from receiving a kind act, and I’ve seen recipients turn around and become givers of kind acts.  And when I see these things, they remind me of my own power to cause such positive reactions in very simple ways, just by looking for–and taking action on–ways that I can be kind to others.  When I do this, I know that I’m contributing to the positive side of life, the positive energy that permeates everything that we do if we allow it to do so.

I have power today–power to add to the kindnesses of the world, to add to the positive energy that exists among human beings.  But what am I going to do with this power?  Am I going to get so caught up in my day, in my work, that I forget or neglect to perform kind acts?  I certainly hope that I don’t, for that would be a shame.  I would be squandering a great gift, one that can and will enrich my life and the lives of other people that I touch, even if in the smallest of ways. . . .

We restore the holiness of the world through our loving-kindness
and compassion.  Everyone participates.  It is a collective task.
Every act of loving-kindness, no matter how great or small,
repairs the world.  All those ever born have shared
this collective work since the beginning of time.

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