Kindness is the act or the state of being kind, being marked by good and charitable behavior, pleasant disposition, and concern for others.
Recently, I was running late for work. Running late, I have discovered, can make me a little less of all sorts of things: less patient, less calm, and to my chagrin….sometimes even a little less kind.
Now any smart person running late for work, would go straight there and not make a side stop to say….somewhere….like….Starbucks. But, I am not always a smart person. My backwards brain reasoned that in fact I needed a Starbucks more than ever, since I had woken up late, was tired and rushing, and frankly a little grumpy.
So, I headed to Starbucks. The Starbucks in my neighborhood falls into the ultra lazy variety that includes a drive-thru. As I pulled up, I quickly evaluated the line, and played the little drive-thru game of odds….to drive thru or go inside? It was a close call, and I went with the drive-thru.
Seemingly, I chose poorly.
It took forever. I started to play through scenarios that could have happened for this kind of delay….I mean MINUTES passed! (Oh how spoiled we’ve gotten). Obviously, this was all exacerbated by my already looming lateness, that was getting later by the moment. I was getting down right fired up, my clothing was even starting to feel too tight. My thoughts were not kind. I am not proud of my level of irritation.
When I finally made it to the window, in an absolutely impatient gesture, I had my arm and my money out the window before I even came to a stop. I didn’t even wait for the woman to say hello. With a frozen grin attempting to mask my irritation, I just handed her my money.
But, she stopped me. She apologized profusely for the delay, and said the drink was taken care of. I thought it was because of the hold up, but she went on to say that the lady a few cars up had bought drinks for the whole line. She had apparently had a rotten day the day before, and wanted to begin this day on a good, new note. The barista had told me that the lady had gone on to share the long, detailed description of her day, which had begun the delay. Then she said something that snapped me out of my impatient grumpiness.
She said, “When I looked this lady in the eyes, I knew today, she really, really needed someone to listen. She needed to be heard. Thank you so much for your patience and your understanding.”
Ohhh….if she only knew….thank goodness think bubbles weren’t hovering above my head as I was seething in line, just moments before. Boy did I feel crummy. Why had I gotten so worked up over something so silly, and to be honest, something that was really my own fault? I was the one running late.
As I drove away, I kept thinking about what this woman had said….she just needed someone to listen…she needed to be heard. I thought how this barista in the middle of a morning rush at Starbucks, ignored a growing line, chanced disgruntled customers, and chose kindness. She gave someone, a stranger even, exactly what they most needed at that moment. It wasn’t a whole bunch of money, or a big favor, or a huge heroic action. It was just slowing down and listening. Connecting. And I thought, how nice this woman was in return. She wanted to do something for others, to begin her day with kindness.
What if we all just did this a little more? Can you imagine if we all slowed down, even a little, and really paid attention to what those around us were needing? What if we thought not just how a situation was impacting our own selves, but how it was impacting others too? What if we all just worked a little harder to make others feel heard, to make each other feel like we aren’t alone as we navigate through our days?
Maybe this is not even something you or I need. But someone, somewhere needs this little extra attention, and one day it just might be you or me. It just seems maybe it wouldn’t hurt at all if we all worked to share a little more kindness with those we meet along the way.
Kindness Can Look Many Different Ways
Kindness comes in all kinds of forms. This week, in the aftermath of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, stories of kindness emerged that were accompanied by heroism and bravery. And though those acts couldn’t take away the painful parts of the tragedy, they somehow did provide reassurance of the goodness in humankind. Sometimes after seeing such horrible displays of the human’s potential for violence, as we did this week, we all can use a little reassurance of the goodness. It truly was heartening to hear the stories of kindness.
But there are also moments of kindness, like the barista and the coffee lady, that are much more quiet; where one human being is just there for another to show them they are not alone.
Kindness: Pass it On
Kindness is about being there, whatever it looks like, when you are needed. Kindness ultimately is about connecting; connecting not only with our friends, families and loved ones, but with each person we meet, as human beings.
It’s about acknowledging that we need each other, and that life is better if we look out for each other, and work to make the world a little better, a little easier for one another. It’s realizing that sometimes life can be tough and we can all use a little gentleness. It’s slowing down and listening to what somebody else might need right then, right at that moment.
After the sad events of this week, I am reminded more than ever how important it is that we are kind to one another and how important kindness of any variety is. We all walk around in this world carrying our lives with us just below the surface of our ‘Hellos’ and ‘How are yous?’ Those lives come in all shapes and sizes and weights. They have varying degrees of happiness and sadness, excitement or anger. And, they are always changing. We don’t always know what someone else is going through, and how much showing just a little kindness could truly mean.
Kindness is contagious. Its supply is endless and its potential is infinite.
Kindness….let’s pass it on.
Related Posts: How can you find more kindness in the world? Look for it. Check out some ideas from I Don’t Want to Hear My Corduroy Pants.