It seems like the world has been very harsh lately. If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, it is full of negativity. I can barely turn on the news, if it isn’t political turmoil it is a bad weather forecast. I had to put down my beloved little cat Cozy, which was really hard, and then my Dad died.
Sometimes life sucks. But in the chaos of the last couple of weeks, I have also noticed immense kindness. Friends, relatives and even acquaintances have reached out to lend me support. I received dozens of sympathy cards, calls, messages and visits. We ate delicious food that we didn’t have to buy or prepare. More than I ever remember, people were there when I needed a loving shoulder.
Believe me, I noticed. I also noticed the kindness in complete strangers, from the ER doctors and nurses, to the funeral director and the members of the choir at my Dad’s church. I came away from last week feeling that despite what the news would have us believe, most people are good hearted and caring. The kindness I received helped me to fight through my grief, fear and anxiety.
Kindness felt so good that I decided to reciprocate. I wrote a note of thanks to the florist, who managed to make beautiful arrangements despite my vague descriptions of what I wanted. Somehow he knew exactly what to do, and his work exceeded my expectations. Yes, we were paying him, but his attention to detail was exceptional, and I wanted him to know that I noticed.
I started writing little heartfelt notes, not out of obligation, but out of sincere appreciation of kindness. I liked being immersed in kindness, it seemed like a way to bring something positive to the world.
In his new book, Tools of the Titans, Tim Ferris tells about asking members of his audience to take ten seconds and identify two people and then silently think, “I wish for this person to be happy.” The exercise was not doing anything, just thinking. When they were done, everyone in the audience was smiling. He notes that being on the giving end of a kind thought is rewarding in and of itself.
As a follow up, he asked an audience to identify someone every hour on the hour for one week and just silently wish them happiness. After a couple of days, he received an email from Jane. Jane said, “I hate my job. I hate coming to work every single day. But I attended your talk on Monday, did the homework on Tuesday, and Tuesday was my happiest day in 7 years.”
There is power in kindness. I felt in during one of the worst weeks of my life.
I feel changed. I hope that I can notice kindness in others, and in turn, become a kinder person.
It will be my way to fight the harshness of the word.