When scanning the headlines over our morning oatmeal we often see words like death, killing, bombings, unemployment, and so on.
So, when was the last time you saw the word “kindness” in a headline (this post not included!)
The vast majority of the 24/7 news cycle is negative and I truly believe this has an effect on society as a whole. I wrote a post awhile back about how the latest shooting rampage gave me nightmares, something I hadn’t experienced in a long time. It’s downright depressing and, thanks to technology, its constant.
This is why efforts like The Kindness Challenge are so important. Receiving a steady diet of “junk food” is going to have detrimental effects on the consumer. Conversely, a balanced diet that includes positive news, will have a healthy effect on people. There are many changes and improvements needed to make the world better. Change is hard and with all the bad news it’s very difficult to feel hopeful.
The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines. ~Charles Kuralt, On the Road With Charles Kuralt
I’ve been thinking a lot about the kindness factor in our society and realized so much of it occurs between strangers. According to a report in December 2014 from the Corporation for National & Community Service, one in four Americans volunteer through an organization and two-thirds helped their neighbors in some capacity. I was pleasantly surprised to read this, as the figures were higher than I expected!
The non-profit sector has grown steadily over the last decade adding paid employees, as well as volunteers to their ranks. Unfortunately, these unsung heroes don’t get a lot of press or compensation. As Gordon Livingston, MD noted in his book, The Thing You Think You Cannot Do:
One of the ironies of the capitalist system is that the largest material rewards go to the most selfish and acquisitive among us while those who dedicate their lives to the benefit of others are customarily the least compensated.
But, kindness has nothing to do with money. Altruistic efforts are their own reward. There are many large and small organizations where volunteers give of their time and talents for the collective good. They do it because it feels good and satisfies a need to make a contribution to a cause they believe in.
This past week I noticed a few instances of kindness:
- A young man from the apartment complex changed the tire for an elderly resident
- A twenty-something female in line at the grocery store helped a mom with three small children unload her grocery cart
- A man in front of me at the post office let me go ahead of him because he had several packages, while I only had one
These small, yet admirable efforts remind us that there are opportunities to show kindness all around us. Everyday and everywhere we go. However, we must become more aware of them. I believe our fast-paced lives rob us of this awareness. In addition, with so many people glued to their smartphones, we tend to miss these opportunities. Becoming more mindful of our surroundings and the people in them is a good way to recognize them.
Whether we donate to charity, volunteer with an organization, or help a neighbor/stranger, kindness can be shared with anyone.
We should become prime examples of compassion for our fellow-man and teach our children to do the same.
I’ve always tried to be a good neighbor and helpful when an opportunity presents itself. However, this challenge has me thinking about volunteering. There are so many worthy causes, it will be hard to choose. But, I’m committed to researching what’s in my area and giving some time and energy to helping others. I’ll keep you posted!
While it might not be possible to single-handedly change the world, it is possible to change your own little corner of it…one kind act at a time. Let’s strive to be leaders when it comes to kindness and challenge those around us to follow our lead!