Kindness means something different for each of us. For some, it’s having a pleasant disposition or a concern for others. Others may view kindness as helping someone in need without expectation of return or an advantage gained. I believe everyone understands in general what kindness looks like. I also believe that all of us have kindness within us and that people in general have good hearts.
I feel that so many of us are in such a hurry with our busy lives today that we simply forget to take the time to be kind, to smile, to extend help to a person in need or to listen to someone who wants to share a story or concern. The fact is that it takes very little time to be kind, it’s absolutely free, and simple random acts of kindness can make a tremendous impact on an individual’s life.
My family recently took a trip to Copenhagen Denmark to visit with my son Nicholas who is studying abroad for the semester. My trip awakened a notion in me that I would like to share. I am truly grateful to be a US citizen, to enjoy all of the freedoms of this country and to take advantage of all of the opportunities here. However, I feel that in all of our quests as a country to succeed or to be the best, we have lost sight of some of the simple blessings in our lives.
Denmark is a beautiful country with a wonderful culture. The people we met went out of their way to be kind and extend a courtesy to their neighbors and my family day after day. Kindness seemed to be a good habit, a way of life. I am thankful for all of the good will extended to me and my family – from their smiles and directions, to gentlemen giving up their seats for my wife and children. The way they treated others reminded me of my parents’ generation, where kindness seemed to be practiced every day.
As I sort through where we are as a country – regardless of what each of us believes the direction we should be headed in or are headed in, I believe all of us need to take a breath and extend some kindness to those around us. Take the time to listen to the concern or position of someone before cutting them off and explaining why they are wrong. In the end, you may have to agree to disagree but respect can be maintained in reaching that conclusion. Since my trip to Denmark, I have made a conscious effort to become a better listener, to share some kindness and to be thankful for the kindness shown to me and my family.
I recently went online to read about random acts of kindness. I was truly inspired by all the stories of people helping others with absolutely no expectation of benefit or thanks. I encourage you to seek out and read some of the stories or better yet, use the inspiration to perform an act of kindness yourself. Open a door for someone, compliment a friend, give up your seat for someone, write a note of encouragement or take a day to smile at everyone you see.
I believe kindness is contagious, and I am hopeful everyone catches a little bit of it soon. — Paul Pittman