Kindness Catches on So Pay it Forward
In this world of fast travel, bucket lists, health concerns, more doctor appointments and other me, me, me situations, have we forgotten to spread kindness to others along the way?
When we perform an act of kindness, we often find we end up going where we might not expect. It makes us feel so good and raises our level of consciousness about how wonderful people can be. Also, it’s a fact that when someone is kind to you, you tend to pay it forward. It’s contagious in a healthy way.
A woman Margaret knows, helped someone who was out of work. Sure, she tried to help her find a new job. However, she went the extra mile. At dinner one night with the out-of-work friend, the woman finessed a way to give her the money (that she didn’t have) for the tab without embarrassment. When the bill came, she said, “I’ll pay your portion because I owe you money.” This was not true, and Margaret caught on to her gift of kindness. She learned from this and has put this kindness forward.
Most of us want to leave the world a better place than we found it. Right now, we have an extraordinary opportunity to do acts of kindness. Some of this takes working together to transform health care, reduce drug prices, create a secure retirement for all, make Social Security solvent, build livable communities for older citizens and revolutionize the workplace so those who want or need to continue working can do so. Each of us can play a role in caring about others.
In an op-ed by David Brooks in the New York Times on Sept. 1, 2023, titled, “People are More Generous Than You May Think,” Brooks stated that “humanity thrives because of our cooperative nature, not our selfishness.” Opinion | People Are More Generous Than You May Think - The New York Times (nytimes.com).
Instead of buying another pair of shoes, a purse or even a lottery ticket, you give money (or buy a meal) for a homeless person or donate to a charity to help kids with food, books or school supplies or even clothing. We see these acts of generosity and kindness every day in New York City.
Being kind is not about being liked. It’s about taking the time to make someone else’s life better and help them feel valued. Each of us is relevant. And surprisingly, being kind can be self-healing.
Here are a few quick ways to spread your warmth, friendliness and generosity of spirit and show that you have time for each other, for friends and even for strangers. (We came up with even more acts of kindness that we stated in a blog in October 2021 titled, “Kind Deeds, One Day at a Time.” https://lifelessonsat50plus.com/blogs/news/kind-deeds-one-day-at-a-time?_pos=4&_sid=c573f9648&_ss=r)
- The holidays are coming. Loneliness can set in when a single friend with no family has nowhere to go to celebrate. It’s so easy to say to someone who is by themselves: “Hey, we have an extra place at the table with your name on it. Please join us. We’d love your company.” If the person resists or hesitates, insist in a kind way. “We love having someone new to add excitement; we insist!”
- When someone needs to talk because she is hurting, be as quiet as a tongue-tied librarian. Listen. They need your shoulder, so perk up and be present. Don’t become a conversational narcissist where you turn the conversation on yourself and how you dealt with woes. For example, the person is talking about how she was rude to her aging and demanding mother. You want to share your experience and say, “I understand for one evening I lost it with my mother when she…” Now the conversation selfishly has shifted to you when the other person needs you to listen to her. When you have listened sufficiently, then you might slip in how you can relate and give your story as perspective.
Your friend is telling you about an incident with their partner. You’re on the phone so she doesn’t see you cringing at how she handled it. You want to jump in and offer your point of view as if you’re giving tax advice. However, to be kind and show you are a good listener, ask before you dispense your words of wisdom. That means: no suggestions. No, “OMG, you said that?” The kindest thing to do is to restate or paraphrase what they told you they did and let it sink in. Then, they can then do the cringing…or not.
- With other issues, check back a few days later or in a week. Don’t be a pest and pepper with questions, but say, “I was wondering. Are things better? I hope so,” and then again let the person talk. And try to remember family and friends’ milestones such as the anniversary of a loved one’s death.
- Be kind and don’t gossip, even if you say, “Please, don’t share.” The other person might, and word could get around. And hurting someone is never kind. Email or share out loud an apology. And learn from your mistake.
- Your neighbor has the flu and cannot get out to walk their dog. Knock on the door and ask to walk the dog. Insist. If you work from home, you can spare a half hour in the afternoon to help out. It’s beneficial for both. It’s healthy to take a walk rather than a smoking or coffee break and get out and away from your computer.
- A friend got a bad health result and must go back for another test or biopsy. Ask if someone is accompanying them and if not offer and mean it.
- Do something totally random; bring flowers to a favorite hairdresser or trainer; bake a cake for a friend’s birthday rather than just sending a card; simply call up someone you haven’t for a while and ask how they are and try to make plans, if you live nearby.
- Be kind to yourself. Eat well, sleep well, nurture your relationships and treasure them. Be grateful for what you have and don’t covet what others may have or do. Be happy for others for, in reality, what they do does not take away from what you do, albeit it may be different.
- You are incensed at a city ordinance getting rid of eating structures, which has generated good income for your favorite restaurants. Your act of kindness can be as simple as doing your civic duty and standing up in a community meeting to voice your concern in a lucid and gentle tone. Or, you write a letter to your city official stating your views locigally
Doing an act of kindness—small or large--can be rocket fuel for your spirit and others. Few things feel as good as doing good.