Kindness Challenge|Week 6: Kindness Without Expectation

KindnessWeek #6 focused on expressing kindness to others without expecting anything in return.

I’m happy to say that growing older has taught me that being kind is a gift in itself. I like how it makes me feel.

Sure, I hope that the other person feels the pleasure as well, but if they’re too busy or distracted to really notice I’m okay with that. 


Last Saturday was a good example. I attended a wedding celebration and was saving a seat for my friend who went to the restroom.

A young mother with a toddler on her hip stopped at the open chair across from me and deposited her youngster. I assumed she was planning to sit down and quickly told her that the seat was already taken. There were a plate and beverage marking the spot, but she looked frazzled and may not have noticed.

” Oh, no, we’re not sitting here, I just need a moment…” her voice trailing off.

“Sure, no problem,” I answered.

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Photo credit: Darius Soodmand/Unsplash

She looked around distractedly as the child started to fuss. Within seconds she picked up the little girl. When she did the girl spotted two cookies on the plate in front of me and leaned hard, reaching for them. 

“No, no,” the mother said. “Those aren’t yours.”

The child started to cry and I quickly offered one of the sweet treats.

The mother took it and gave it to the girl who promptly took a bite and smiled happily. At that point, the parent walked off and I waved to the girl who continued to munch on the cookie. She waved back.

I noted that the mother didn’t thank me, nor encourage the child to say thank you. But, the whole point of offering the cookie was to quiet the little one and bring some peace to the frazzled looking parent (I’ve been in her shoes!)

I achieved both and felt pretty satisfied.

Which is why showing kindness to others is about making me feel good as much as them!

 

Kindness Challenge|Week 6: Kindness Without Expectation


 

Kindness Challenge|Week 5: Choosing Kindness

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Week #5 of the Kindness Challenge was “choosing kindness” and what better contagion is there?

If only positivity could spread as quickly as negative things like gossip and poison ivy!

We see this every day on the Internet when the haters troll others with their venom. While we don’t have to agree on everything, mutual respect should be the standard. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and the level of nastiness appears to be growing.

Kindness is a great antidote to all of the hostility in the world today, so choosing kindness is a way of rejecting the anger and offering goodwill instead.


One of the options Niki proposed was to choose someone you normally have difficulty showing kindness to and do it anyway.

An opportunity happened to avail itself with someone who I maintain a healthy distance from. This person is my ex-husband. 

We were married for 23 years following a nine-year courtship. Thirty-two years is a long time to spend with someone. We had three wonderful children together, but I’m still sad that he never tried to conquer the addiction that destroyed our family and his life.

He recently spent two and a half weeks in the hospital as his health is declining. Along with his sisters and our son, I pitched in to take care of things that needed to be done during his hospital stay.

I was sorry to see the condition of my former home. I always worked hard to keep it clean and organized, but it’s no longer that way. Just as he has neglected his health the house is also in disrepair.

I spent two days cleaning up and an additional afternoon helping my son cut and rake the yard. 

I did this for several reasons:

  1. For me – Because so much of the situation was and is out of my control, I wanted to do something positive that was within my control. 
  2. For him – I wanted to show my ex that even though he apparently doesn’t think much of himself, his family still cares.
  3. For my children – I believe that as a parent we lead by example. I want them to show caring and empathy to others, even when it’s difficult. 

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Credit: Readers Digest

It’s easy to be nice to people who treat you well. But, what about those folks who don’t?

It might be a rude customer or that guy who cut you off in traffic. 

It could be a family member or friend who would rather judge you than actively listen and consider your feelings along with theirs.

Relationships are a 50/50 proposition with half of the responsibility falling to ourselves. I tried to convince my husband that he needed help and that I would support those efforts. 

Since I couldn’t control his drinking, I believed that this was my 50 percent. However, I was weak and enabled his habit. Perhaps if I had been stronger and taken drastic measures early on it might have made a difference. I guess I’ll never know.

The following quote rings true in my mind: 

Those who deserve love the least need it the most. Austin O'Malley

 

People who don’t like themselves have difficulty getting along with others.

In order to offer love, empathy, and understanding we must first offer it to ourselves. 

This is what I’ve learned and worked on over the past decade. 

It doesn’t mean I excuse his behavior and the terrible losses we suffered as a family. It just means that I recognize the limitations of his humanity and the fact that we all have them, myself included.

Kindness creates an opportunity for compassion and healing, for ourselves and others. Our world needs a lot more of both, so the choice is clear.


Kindness Challenge|Week 5: Choosing Kindness