Kindness: A Lost Art?

We work very hard in our household to promote kindness with our children. My wife and I both grew up in environments where you go out of your way to show appreciation for people- out of kindness and not out of any desire to receive a special benefit. My mom and dad taught me to be a gentlemen and take the time to listen to people, open doors for people in need and offer my assistance if someone is seeking help.

I wonder though if kindness is a lost art form in today’s frantic paced society.

How mad do we get when someone is in a rush to get on the highway? If someone has a couple of items in a store line and we have a cart full of groceries, how willing are we to allow this person to go ahead of us? How often do we thank our servers, our post office delivery people, our landlords, our teachers, our bosses, even our significant others and our sons and daughters?

With the number of messages delivered to people in a given day (and I’ve heard we are bombarded with well over 10,000 according to the latest research), how often do we hear, “you’re doing a great job!” or “I really like your infectious laugh” or catch someone doing something good?

I love the fact that my daughters want to go for walks together around the downtown area where we live. Without even asking today, they went to the library and got my books for me while I was sleeping. Yesterday they both made my wife and I a fabulous dinner- not because they had to but because they wanted to show us they can do it and help the family at the same time. It’s excellent to see that our generosity and deep conversations haven’t been lost on them when they return these acts of kindness.

My wife has a friend that wanted to adopt a family for Christmas by getting gifts for them in their time of need. The mother is going through a series of complicated health issues and as a result doesn’t have as much to spend on presents for her daughter this year. We wanted to do something special for her so we made the connection and now she and her daughter will gain the chance to make this Christmas one of the best they’ve probably ever had.

When it comes to kindness and thinking of it like a bank- I would rather continually make deposits than expect withdrawals. I will acknowledge kind acts as they happen in and around my life- but I don’t expect favors to be returned on a 1 to 1 basis. If I can connect people who can create win-win situations, then all the better for both parties involved. I feel like it’s my purpose in life to help others as much as I can. I’ve been given the gift of a wonderful wife, a loving family, two caring daughters and an extended set of friends both close and far that are kind enough to share some of their time and energy with me.

Make it a mission to perform three kind acts in your life every week. Gain the courage to extend yourself in an area of life you’ve always wanted to explore but haven’t made the time or energy to pursue. Volunteer, contribute, acknowledge people when they are doing something well. Even if it’s a small e-mail catching them doing something right in the community- people need kindness as much as they need air to live fully and completely. Your head and heart will thank you in the long run.

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