Friday, May 6, 2011

The Power of Kindness

I have found that there are things in life that I learn, and then, because I get caught up in the itty-bitty details of day-to-day life, I forget. Then I'm happily reminded of them and then life once again gets the best of me, and I forget. Back and forth and up and down it goes. This week I have been reminded, in a big way, of the amazing power of kindness.

One of the things I love to do is volunteer in my children's schools. I like being helpful and useful, I like seeing the students (the little guys are just so adorable!), I like getting to know our teachers and administrators better (they are very interesting folks and I admire their passion and dedication), and, usually, I like the camaraderie of rolling my sleeves up alongside other Moms and Dads to make a positive impact in our schools. I say 'usually' because the last several weeks have been fraught with struggle, angst, and stress. It feels like tornadoes and hurricanes have been whipping by all around me.

Now, if there's one thing no one can ever accuse me of, it's being a quitter. I've been hanging in there, alternately hopeful and discouraged, but the beginning of the week had to be an all time low. Then I happened to bump into an acquaintance who knew some of my struggles, and she very softly and quite sincerely asked how I was doing. I said I was hanging in there and she again, very softly and very sincerely, patted my arm and offered her help. Suddenly, I felt a little ray of sunshine peeking through the dark storm clouds.

As a result of that extremely short and chance encounter, I found I was actually carrying a little bit of hope in my heart all that day. As it turns out, we got a chance to speak again, and I was truly blessed to be on the receiving end of simple human kindness and a great generosity of spirit from this wonderful lady. I instantly felt lighter, literally like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and that enabled me to look at my circumstances with new eyes and a new perspective. By the next morning, I was refreshed and ready, not just to carry on, but to forge a new path, with renewed creativity and new ideas.

Kindness - simple, easy, sincere kindness - is such an incredibly powerful thing. Kindness lifts us, inspires us, energizes us, and brings such happiness to a troubled heart. It encourages us to believe in ourselves, to keep trying, and to see that things are not really as impossible as they seem. Kindness wraps itself around us like a treasured and familiar blanket, providing warmth and protection, safety and reassurance, peace and a place to rest and rejuvenate. It fosters creativity and sheds light on options that can usher in solutions, agreement, and harmony. Quite simply, kindness can sometimes feel like a miracle.

Isn't it amazing that something so potent and powerful as kindness doesn't cost anything and doesn't take a whole lot of time or energy to give? Is that why we forget about its power so easily? Or is it because it's understated and unassuming? Truly kind people don't seek or command great public attention or accolades. They don't stand and shout, "Make way for me! Look how special and wonderful I am!" Nope. Truly kind people work their magic softly, gently, and quietly. The knowledge that they tried to help and did a good thing is the only reward they seek. Perhaps that's why we so easily overlook it.

Well, having been the grateful beneficiary of an unexpected and wonderful kindness this week, I vow to keep the cycle of kindness alive and well. What we put out into the world comes back to us seven-fold, so I promise to put kindness out into the world. The more kindness I spread, the more I will receive and hopefully, I'll keep giving and receiving so much that it spills over and splashes onto everyone around me. If you join me, perhaps we can start tsunamis of kindness rolling all over the world. Now wouldn't that be an amazing thing? And isn't that a great way to repay my friend?

So here comes my rallying cry. Go forth, my friends, and practice random acts of kindness. Look for every opportunity to pass it on. Accept kindness when it's offered to you, and repay it out in triplicate, at least. For every 'Oh my God' you utter in shock or despair, say an 'Oh God, help me be kind' prayer. Seize every opportunity that comes your way to intentionally offer kindness...even to those who seem to live just to irk you. Keep it going, round and round, so that we'll not so easily overlook or forget the amazing, healing power of kindness anymore.

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