Growing up, I always believed that kindness was a fundamental trait and something everyone practiced daily. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of harsh and hurtful comments thrown in my direction. Still, it never deterred me from believing that people are considerate or that I needed to be kind to others.
In my adulthood, I learned that it’s not always apparent that everyone practices kindness towards others. Despite that, I still believed that everyone I met practiced kindness in some way.
I might sound naive, but it is a belief I have, and the funny thing is I actually never knew that about myself. It wasn’t until last year that a coworker turned friend pointed it out.
I was in an extremely toxic workplace, and I would lament over problem after problem. One day, I was crying over a known issue with this friend of mine. She finally said, “you always believe every person you meet is nice, but you are deeply hurt when you find out they are not. In this workplace, you’ve been let down repeatedly.”
What she said struck me.
Why do I believe that people are intrinsically kind, and why hasn’t my experience dissuaded my stance?
At a very young age, I was taught that compassion is innate in all of us, and it’s our instinct to help each other.
Think about it, if you witness someone crying, it’s likely we feel sad for them and want to help. Even if you don’t act on that thought, at the very least, you have that thought – that’s your instinct!
Unfortunately, external and internal influences dim our compassion. Whether it’s bad parenting, childhood trauma, the flood of negative news, or even how someone might respond to me can make it tough to be altruistic. Nevertheless, it’s not impossible, which is why kindness takes courage.
There have been countless studies on the positive impacts of charity, especially for the giver. Whether it’s lending a listening ear to your friend, helping a friendly stranger, or surprising your coworker with a coffee in the morning, you will experience more positive emotions. The more you practice, the more satisfied your life becomes.
It definitely takes courage for me to be kind. I’m not the most positive person in the room, but I do my best. Plus, being on the receiving end of my family and friend’s benevolence inspires me. So, in a sense, I’m paying kindness forward.
We are all going through something challenging every day – some of us may be struggling more than others, but if you can find it in your heart to extend kindness to your neighbor, friend, family, or a stranger, I want to encourage you to do so.
Your actions can give you a new perspective in whatever situation you are going through, not to mention how you might make someone’s day or even their life. So, be courageous and spread kindness.