Kindness is any act of thoughtfulness, service or generosity that is a response to the need of another person. A positive aspect of kindness is that it is contagious – its positive influence grows of its own momentum.
Seth Godin alludes to this growth feature of kindness when he wrote in his blog:
Kindness ratchets up. It leads to more kindness. It can create trust and openness and truth and enthusiasm and patience and possibility.
You might be able to recall when this happened for you. I can recall my own positive feelings yesterday when a waitress helped my wife and I to put on our heavy coats to protect against the cold as we left the restaurant to step out into what felt like 4 degrees. We were visiting Ravenna in northern Italy for the day and this was our first visit.
The waitress, who was in the process of closing up after lunch on Boxing Day, went out of her way to ask where we were from. When we answered that we were from Australia, she shared her story of 9 months in Australia, including visiting our home town in Brisbane. She also disclosed that she was originally from Sweden. This kindness of engaging us in conversation at the end of the meal served to cap off a wonderful meal and was one of a number of acts of kindness we experienced during our lunch at the restaurant. She may not have realised that this was the first real conversation we had experienced in 4 weeks in Italy. We could not speak Italian but the waitress spoke English fluently.
On Christmas night, we encountered another kind act by a group of about 10 young singers and a guitarist who were travelling the streets in 3 degrees temperature and singing to individual homeless people in the streets. They sang the song, “We wish you a Merry Christmas” in a number of languages and left a gift for the homeless person.
I was pleased to learn that my son and his girlfriend, both in their twenties, spent time on Christmas Day helping a charity to serve meals to homeless people.
You can engage in kindness at any time and in any way – you can be really creative about how you show kindness to others. Kindness.org offers suggestions on how to be kind and shares stories of other peoples’ acts of kindness by way of inspiration.
In my discussion of empathy as part of emotional intelligence and mindful leadership, I highlighted the fact that kindness is one manifestation of empathetic behaviour. People who are self-absorbed are unable to perceive the needs of others or respond to those needs in a kind way. As you grow in mindfulness, your capacity for kindness grows and you are able to be more of a positive influence in the lives of others.
By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)
Image source: courtesy of skeeze on Pixabay