It’s the little (and big) things
On Facebook recently, a friend had liked a post from a popular page that asked, ‘What’s the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you?’. Late into the night and very bored, I clicked on the comments to see what people had written.
There were lots of random acts of kindness. One person was complimented by a stranger who had overheard the person’s boyfriend tell her he didn’t like her outfit. Another wrote about the time that an older lady bought her and her three siblings cupcakes after seeing them staring through a bakery window.
There were also big things, like a donated kidney, a child adopted into a wonderful new family and other life changing (and lifesaving) acts.
There was something incredibly heart-warming about these stories. For a short while I felt that people were wonderful, and the world was a beautiful place to be. Kindness (even second hand) is not an insignificant thing. I couldn’t even count the number of times my day has been turned around by someone unexpectedly doing something nice for me.
Yet knowing how good it is, why do I often hesitate to be kind?
Worth the effort?
It’s not like I’m a mean person (I hope!), but there have been more times than I’d care to admit where I’ve thought for a split second about whether being nice is worth the effort. At the end of the day the sales assistant isn’t going to think you’re a terrible person if you don’t smile at them as you go through the checkout.
Is it weird?
I was having a drink with some friends recently, when one brought up a mutual acquaintance who had suffered a loss. Despite not really knowing this person very well, she wanted to send flowers and a card. In short, she wanted to do a nice thing because she is a nice human. But after telling us her thoughts, my friend asked us, ‘is that weird?’.
Isn’t it strange to think that we live in a world where we question opportunities to be kind or to do good?!
Just do it!
My friend ended up following through and her small gesture was very much appreciated. But it did make me wonder how many people have missed out on feeling loved or cared for or simply thought of because of my own hang ups.
Occasionally, like my friend, I’ve wondered whether something was too much, unwanted, or simply unnecessary. I tend to overthink things and wonder if I’ll send the wrong message. Sometimes I’ve had a bad day, and for some reason think that that entitles me to be grumpy at the expense of the people around me (it doesn’t by the way!). Other times, I just simply can’t be bothered.
As I was thinking about all of this, I made a (very late) new years resolution to live by a new motto. ‘Kindness is never wrong and always worth it.’ It’s not the catchiest thing I’ve ever heard by a long shot, but for me at least I hope it will serve a purpose.
‘Kindness is never wrong and always worth it.’
This year I want to make a special effort when it comes to kindness. But what does that practically look like?
As I remember that kindness is never wrong, I want to stop questioning myself. I’d like to do nice things for the people around me without feeling silly or unsure of myself. If I was into being corny, I’d say that I’m going to follow my heart, not my head. Well, maybe 80% heart and 20% head just to be sure!
It also means that I need to get over myself a little bit! Sometimes I don’t make an effort because I worry about the other person’s response, especially if I think that there’s a possibility that I will be hurt or embarrassed. But is that really a good enough excuse? No way!
As I remember that kindness is always worth it, I want to practice doing it until it becomes a habit. I’d like to think that I treat everyone the way that I would like to be treated, but I know that depending on my mood, or how busy I am, it doesn’t always happen! As I go about my daily life and small routines, I want to do the small things that often make a big difference for someone else. No matter how I’m feeling, I want to do the right thing.
Collecting stories of kindness
So, here’s to a 2019 full of kindness. Whatever the year holds, I hope that I end up with some wonderful stories of nice things that strangers have done for me, and I hope that I can be a part of spreading kindness to the people around me.
Anna Waite hails from Australia but lives and works in South East Asia. She enjoys travel, good coffee and getting to hang out with awesome people from around the world.
Anna Waite hails from Brisbane, Australia. She enjoys travel, good coffee and getting to hang out with awesome people from around the world!