Monday, May 26, 2014

Kindness



-- The Power of Kindness --
* by Bruce Star

Sometimes you learn the simplest, most powerful lessons of kindness under the most ritual and mundane circumstances. For instance, five days a week, I get up, or I am awakened by my daughter Kenia, to get her ready to go off to school. This morning I asked her as usual what she wanted for breakfast. I would ask if she wanted cereal or oatmeal? She would say... either... oatmeal... or cereal.
Her response left me cold. It took a few days for me to realize that the correct and kind response was to say, "I will have cereal dad, thanks!" Or, "I will have oatmeal dad, thanks!" When I asked her to please respond that way, she said she would and did so from that point forward.

It wasn't that I was being mean or overly demanding of her. I just knew it made me feel better that if I had to get up earlier than I would like, if she showed a form of appreciation by responding in a way that would lift my spirits when I heard her responses. I also I told her it was excellent practice for when she got older and people were offering her things or asking her opinion, to respond in a positive fashion that would make the person feel better about asking.

I explained to her that if she could just choose the "kind" path or response, people would be more willing to not only be kind to her in return, but they would remember how good you made them feel when they offered you something in the past. They would do it again if they knew they would feel good again if they offered you something in the future.

I let Kenia know that even though the things we were talking about seemed small and unimportant, I told her that indeed, it was very important to get into the practice of being kind. I then went on to tell her that as she got older, being kind to everyone she met would make an incredible difference in her life, not only to the people she was kind to, but to her.

That very same morning and as we were walking to the school bus stop, we pass a security gate that the guard has to electronically open after we ring the bell. Right in front of us, maybe twenty feet away, a man was coming through the gate and instead of holding the gate open for us to walk through, he quickly moved on and let the gate close. He passed us by with his head down and we were so surprised by his untypical (most people are kind enough to hold the gate open if we were not too far from the gate) and insensitive action, we didn't have the chance to say hello as he had already walked by.

I looked at my daughter and said, "Isn't that interesting?"

She said, "What do you mean?"

I said, "What just happened is a perfect example of what we were discussing earlier this morning. Let me describe the two scenarios. On the one hand, the man did not hold the door for us. As he put his head down, he could not have felt good about his insensitive action, and no doubt left the situation feeling probably just as badly as he did before he came upon us."

"Right," my daughter said.

"Here is what could have happened instead," I continued. "When he came through the door, and saw us coming, with very little effort or time spent on his part, he could have waited three or four seconds and held the door open for us. He might have said good morning, bringing a sure smile to his face as he said it. Our faces would have lit up by the kindness of another stranger to us. We were sure to say good morning and gone out of our way to verbally thank him for being kind enough to wait the few extra seconds it took us to get to the gate. Kenia, you would have smiled at him and said thank you and the three of our spirits would have been uplifted instantly by this five second encounter with another person."

I then said to her, "Do you see the difference a small and short act of kindness can do to not only you, but to another person who in this instance was a stranger?"

Kenia said, "Yes, I do see the difference. It does make a big difference to be kind."

Moments later, a man walking to work the same time I walk Kenia to the bus stop, walked by just as he did each and every work day. For the first several months we saw him, this kind looking man would walk by without raising his head. Then one day, I said hello to him. His face also lit up. He called out energetically, "Good morning! Have a great day!"

From that day onward, we both enthusiastically say hello each and every morning, all the time having fun with it. Sometimes he is a few seconds to a few minutes late in getting to our spot. Sometime we are a few seconds to a few minutes late to meeting. When our paths do cross, we always remark, "hey, you are a few seconds late," or "it looks like we are late today," with each encounter ending in a big smile on all of us. He always then calls out, "have a great day!" I say, "the very same to you!"

Don't think little things like that makes a difference? This past week, my daughter stayed home from school for three days because she had a cold. When we got back on our morning schedule of walking to school, the first thing this man remarked was, "Hey, where were you guys? I missed you!"

Sometimes, the slightest act of kindness can make all the difference in the world, in your day or in another person's day. Imagine how different your life's experiences could be if you initiated positive experiences in your day rather than negative ones just by showing small acts of kindness. I know, not everyone is going to be kind or respond to your kindness. Don't let that bother you. Focus on how good it made you feel to be kind. Remind yourself that if the other person was feeling better about themselves, such as the person who did not even want to hold the door open for us, he would no doubt want to extend his kindness to others. Wish that person well who doesn't open that door. That will help you quickly recover from taking on his negative emotions.

The Power of Kind is sure and dramatic! Let it work in your life. Just try it for one short day. See if it doesn't make a difference. Then ask yourself, if this is all I have to do to have better days, why not do it everyday? Put a few weeks or months of positive experiences together instead of several weeks or months or negative days, and see how your life starts to turn around for the better.

  Find Dave and Lillian Brummet, excerpts from their books, their radio program, blog, and more at: http://brummet.ca * Support the Brummets by telling your friends, clicking those social networking buttons, or visiting the Brummet's Store - and help raise funds for charity as well!
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