For most of my life, I have had the idea that somehow kindness makes the world a better place, and I have tried to practice kindness. It can really be hard to be kind at times. Sometimes people think you are naïve if you are kind. Sometimes people misunderstand your kindness as stupidity. Sometimes people try to take advantage of your kindness.
Sometimes when you are kind to people, they become suspicious of you and think you are trying to manipulate them somehow. Sometimes when you are kind to people, they know you are being kind to them, and they treat you cruelly anyhow. Sometimes when you are kind, people assume that you don’t have what it takes to make it in a hard world.
When you are kind and people act in these above mentioned ways, it can be really painful. I have experienced painful situations like this sometimes in the past, and occasionally I have thought, “Is it really worth it to be kind?” I believe it is worth it, and I still believe that kindness makes the world a better place. Here are some of the things I think kindness does:
It makes people feel like you see them and honor them.
It helps people have hope that even when life is hard, there is still beauty in the world.
It can create a space of peace and safety, and this can be especially meaningful when people are having a hard day.
It helps us believe that despite all of the darkness in the world, the light persists.
Today I was at one of my favorite local coffee shops. I go to this coffee shop quite frequently, and the barista that made my tea today has made my drink several times before. He is a pretty silent and brusque guy. He does not smile or talk a lot, which is completely fine, but it can be hard to read him sometimes. Whenever he makes my drink, I always smile at him and ask him how he is doing. He usually doesn’t say much in response.
But today was different. Today after I signed my receipt, he looked at me and said, “Hey, thanks for everything.”
Surprised, I said, “Well, I don’t feel like I did very much, but you’re welcome.”
He replied, “You’ve been in here several times, and you’re always really nice. Thanks. It means a lot.”
I was shocked. I was not even sure if he had noticed me in the past, to be honest, and I had often thought I was annoying him. It reminded me that people often notice our kindness, and it makes a difference to them, even if we do not realize it.
So, if you are committed to being kind in an often unkind world, good for you. Your kindness is noticed, and it makes a difference.