I’ve been thinking a lot this week about kindness, and what that means. And really, isn’t it anything, even the smallest thing, that changes the moment, or our day, or even our way of thinking? We all know what it’s like when someone does something unexpectedly kind – how touching and wonderful that feels. It has the power to turn around our whole day. What would it be like if we could all do those things, all the time? I would argue that the world would feel very different.
Last night my daughter was talking about one of her teachers, and she shared with us something that he does to spread kindness. He said when he has an especially bad or even downright rude waiter in a restaurant, he actually tips them more than he would normally. At first this struck me as odd. Why would we reward someone for their bad behavior? But then I realized he’s actually trying to turn the situation around. Instead of assuming the worst (the waiter is just an inherent jerk), he assumes the best (that he’s struggling somehow). And with that comes his desire to help. If he tips him extra, he just might turn around this waiter’s day to the point that he then feels better, acts better – acts kinder, to the next patron. And so on.
I know it’s not always possible to be kind. We all have bad days. We all struggle with things and take them out on those around us in one way or another. I know I’m guilty of this. But if we truly try to remember that everyone is struggling, most in ways we not only cannot see but often in ways we could not even imagine, it makes it a whole lot easier to be kinder and more understanding.
“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” A bigger tip to a rude waiter. A smile to a silent cashier. A “how are you” to the mailman. A flower for a friend. All small things. But all powerful.