“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” — Henry James
Facebook Memory June 29, 2014: “I decided I needed spectators for motivation not just for races but everyday runs too. Dragging in my last ½ mile today, I run past this older man who says, “You get it Girl!” I dug down and finished strong. Thanks stranger!!! #sometimesstrangesrrock”
I came across this Facebook Memory on Monday morning and it made me smile because it reminded me that when someone is kind to you, it feels so good. That man didn’t know me from Amy, he was out enjoying his morning walk and he didn’t have to say anything to me as I was running towards him. Nevertheless, he did, and six years ago those four words made my day!
- He saw me struggling, the pain on my face from my leg cramping was obvious I was hurting.
- He realized it was already 80 degrees at 7:00 a.m. and saw the sweat dripping off my hair like I had just jumped out of a swimming pool.
- He was a former runner and he liked encouragement back when he used to run and wanted to spread a little joy.
- He was just a man practicing kindness because life is too short to be a jerk.
Whatever his reason was for being kind and speaking to me that day, his words meant enough to me for push myself to finish strong and to share my experience on Facebook with the world.
Our world is going through a lot of change at the moment and we each have the ability to be kind and try to make it a better place than it was when we woke up. As I mentioned this in my Do good, feel good blog, being kind increase our own levels of happiness. There are hundreds of websites out that are suggesting ways to spread kindness during these peculiar times we are facing:
- Buy a stranger’s coffee
- Donate your time
- Grocery shop for a neighbor
- Decorate your porch or windows with inspirational signs
- Maine even launched a “Let’s be kind” campaign after business owners were being harassed for trying to enforce patrons to wear masks and to practice social distancing.
The list of kind things you can do goes on and on…but I think most of us know what constitutes being kind to someone means. I have my personally “kindness compass” in my head that I use to spread kindness, but that is my personal list and might not work for you. Yet, no matter what list you read or what good deed you choose to exercise, I believe there are four guidelines to being kind to yourself and to others:
- Act with good intent: If you are only being kind for gratitude in return, that is the wrong reason and fake. You might be kind to a friend or a stranger and get the opposite response from them that you were expecting. However, if your intent was to be kind no matter the outcome, that is key. You can’t control others reactions and some people, are just nasty (probably because they haven’t read my inspirational blogs yet 😉).
- Be authentic: Authenticity is about confidence and staying true to yourself. Authenticity is defined as “not false or copied; genuine; real”. Be real with your kindness. If you aren’t feeling extra “kind” because of a bad day you are having, that is ok. Not everyone walks around with sunshine and rainbows in their heart ALL the time. No need to go out of your way if you aren’t feeling it, but don’t be rude; just skip to the last bullet below.
- Try to see things from another’s perspective: You don’t know what someone else is going through, we all have our own battles. The car on the road in front of you is driving 10 miles under the speed limit. You are frustrated and begin honking, swerving past them and flipping them off. Little did you know that was a 16-year-old, driving to school for the first time without her parents in the car.
- This can go for yourself as well. When it comes to seeing things from a different perspective in regard to being kind with yourself, don’t beat yourself up for sleeping in an extra hour vs getting your workout in. You were being kind to yourself by giving yourself the sleep that you needed to get through the busy day ahead of you, you can always work out tonight or tomorrow.
- Breathe: If you find yourself getting angry, overwhelmed, frustrated, or wanting to be unkind…just pause and breathe. This has been my saving grace many, many days. Just take a moment, take a deep breath and then think of the bullets above.
“Sometimes it feels easier to be unkind…”
Although preaching kindness is great, the truth is, sometimes it is really hard to be kind. I think we can all agree with that. Let’s face it, sometimes it feels easier to be unkind – especially when we are not mentally or emotionally in a great place and we feel like the world is against us. I believe everyone is entitled to express what they are feeling, but that doesn’t mean at the cost of hurting others or yourself.
If you are having a bad/sad/stressful day, you have every right to feel whatever emotions you are feeling, but being unkind to yourself or to others doesn’t serve you in the long run. We are hard wired for compassion, it is deep inside all of us and we should all try to tap into that as much as we can.
Sure, it’s unrealistic to think for the rest of your life, you will not ever say another unkind thing or be unkind to someone, but being kind actually takes less work than being un-kind. Like with most things, the more you practice, the easier it gets. And I’ve found that when I’m unkind because I feel beat down by life, it eats at me and I need to make amends.
“Kindness is Contagious…”
In the middle of so much going on in the world and each of us having our own personal matters affecting our lives, it’s expected that we will be overwhelmed from time to time and we will have to make a real conscious effort to be kind, but the reality is, it does feel good when you practice kindness. As David Gaz said in his documentary, “Kindness is Contagious”.
It sure was nice to have that Facebook memory remind me to spread a little kindness today. And you never know, just simply saying, “You get it Girl”, could change someone’s whole day…and maybe someone will hashtag #sometimesstrangersrock about you!
Remember, You Got This!