Today, November 13, is World Kindness Day. It’s so important for us to have a day of kindness, especially before the holidays get all crazy, to remind us about the importance to be kind not just for the sake of others but for ourselves as well. It’s easy to let things escalate or get blown out of proportion, or to get wrapped up in the minutia that really don’t need as much attention as we give it, when a deep breath and pause could give us the opportunity to come back with a response or reaction that won’t be as damaging to our relationships and careers.
I got an email the other day featuring a video with game camera clips from Florida and in it there was a scene where a group of animals walked through some water and it didn’t look that clean. I felt some concern over the fact that we humans may have negatively impacted that bit of water (since the video was taken near what sounded like a major roadway), and was reminded of the fact that we do impact the natural world on a very regular basis through all kinds of actions (and lack thereof), even those we don’t really think about or don’t seem like there might be an impact.
What does this have to do with kindness? It was a reminder to me that kindness isn’t just about the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you give someone a Christmas or birthday gift and they open it in front of you and they’re thrilled, it’s also about the countless little things that we do or ways that we give and never see the impact of. Kindness is not about what you get in return or what’s in it for you, but about what you give to others without expecting anything in return.
Animals may not be able to express their thanks for us cleaning up the world we all share, but I know they’re thankful that they don’t get tangled in wires or stuck in garbage or covered in oil. We may give time or resources to organizations that support others and never see how the little we give multiplies to help others. We don’t know whose lives we support when we donate that dollar or two at the checkout line, but that money goes on to support others who can never tell us they’re grateful. You don’t know what happened in someone’s day when you stop to help them change a tire, reach for a product on a high shelf, hold open a door, or pay for a cup of coffee, but it may turn everything around for them.
When it comes down to it, kindness, giving and thanks go hand in hand. We can be thankful for opportunities to give, others are thankful to be the recipients of our kindness, and the opportunities to give are endless. How will you share a kindness with someone today?