Be Kind

Bill Abbate

Wouldn’t it be great to have a kindness coin? Flip it in the air. When it lands heads up, someone will be kind to you. When it lands tails up, you get to be kind to someone. If only it were that easy to receive and give kindness. Let’s examine the concept of giving and receiving such thoughtfulness and how it can affect your life and the life of others.

Kindness

Fortunately, everyone understands the meaning of kindness. I love its straightforward definition:

kindness (noun) — the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Oxford Languages

We can add to this simple definition the act of genuine kindness is selflessness, expecting nothing in return.

How often has someone been kind to you with no expectation of receiving anything? Does it happen rarely or often? What is its impact on you?

How often have you been kind to someone for no reason other than to be friendly, generous, or considerate? Does it happen rarely or often? Once again, what is its impact on you?

Let’s look at each side of kindness and how it can impact you by further defining it as an act of caring and love. Kindness from the heart that expects nothing in return. Not even a hint of selfishness.

“Kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips. They make other people good-natured. They also produce their own image on men’s souls, and a beautiful image it is.” Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)

Heads up — you are shown kindness

If you are like me, you may have to stop and think about acts of kindness others have shown you. I have noticed two kinds of kindness — the type that is unforgettable and the type that takes more thought.

One of the earliest acts of kindness I remember was when I was about seven. We lived in Long Beach at the time. My stepfather had recently married my mother, and part of the package was me, my little brother, and my little sister. With five mouths to feed, to say finances were tight is an understatement. His pay as an enlisted man was so low one person could barely live on it, much less five!

At the time, I was in the Cub Scouts, and our den was going to the relatively new nearby Disneyland. Talk about being excited! I will never forget my mother giving me $5.00 to spend. That was a lot of money in 1960! Thinking back, I don’t even know how she had a dollar to spare, much less five! Today that would be like giving a kid more than $50!

I will never forget that act of extreme kindness. I recall feeling so responsible as a young man that I didn’t spend a penny of it and brought it back to her. I will always be thankful for the lesson I learned from her kindness and willingness to sacrifice so much at such a difficult time.

I have no doubt this act of kindness was formative in my life. I can trace much of who I became and what I accomplished to this and a few other experiences. That one act taught me to be kind, give to those I love, and sacrifice if necessary. It taught me to be responsible and, without question, put me on the path to a successful career. Thanks mom! I am forever in your debt.

With the many blessings and difficulties I have been through, I will always cherish those acts of kindness others have shown me.

Try this little exercise to develop a deeper understanding of how kindness, or the lack of it, has shaped your life. Take a few minutes each morning to journal any kindnesses that come to mind. Doing this for a couple of weeks can change how you look at your life.

Something else you can do is talk about the subject with a friend. Share an act of kindness and how it has impacted your life. Ask them to share an act of kindness that also affected their life. Do this a few times, and you will form a strong bond with the person.

You know what I will say next if you have read much of my work. If you are married, have the same conversation with your spouse. Your spouse is your best friend, after all! You will learn something new you can appreciate about each other.

If you ever need encouragement, enter “stories about acts of kindness” in your favorite search engine. You will find countless inspirational true stories about how kindness has affected people’s lives.

“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 (1843–1916)

Tails up — you show kindness

Rather than share a specific act of kindness I have shown someone since it may come off as bragging, which is not my intent, let me tell you what being kind to others has done for me.

Anytime I do an act of kindness for someone, it warms my heart. No matter how small or large, the size of the act is irrelevant as it always makes me feel good inside. It helps me experience love and caring in my heart. It makes me happy and adds to my joy. I always feel more grounded and know it helps me live more meaningfully. The act of being selfless makes life worth living and gives me purpose.

Give some thought to the last act of kindness you did for someone. How did it make you feel? How do you feel about it now?

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Scott Adams (1957-present)

Benefits of being kind

When you show kindness, you always get more in return. Let’s look at a few benefits you can receive by being kind to someone. When you regularly practice kindness, you will:

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” Dalai Lama (1935-present)

Final thoughts

Why not flip the coin of kindness each day to be kind or to receive kindness from someone else? You never know, but one small act of kindness may change a person’s life, whether they are being kind or you are being kind to them.

Better yet, forget the coin and make it a goal to do one act of kindness daily. Using your imagination, you will find countless ways to be kind.

Kindness can be as simple as a hug or as large and grandiose as you wish. Just be sure it comes from your heart with no strings attached.

I leave you with some words of wisdom from scripture written 3000 years ago

“Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with God and people and earn a good reputation.” Proverbs 3:3–4 NLT (c. 1015 — c. 975 B.C.)

If only we could live in a world where everyone attempted to live by those words!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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