“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
– ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu
In raising my children, I use the word “kind” a dozen times a day. I was thrilled to learn that there IS a “Random Acts of Kindness” week, and it’s this week!
When we think of random acts of kindness, we often think of either a grand gesture or a simple act for a random person. For example, we’ll make a meal for a sick neighbor, let someone cut in line at the grocery story, or give some spare change or a couple of dollars to a homeless person collecting money in a cup. Sometimes, however, a random gesture, be it large or small, isn’t possible – we’re in a hurry, we don’t have change handy, etc. Thus, kindness can occasionally feel like a burden, even if it is a priority in our life. Furthermore, there is this belief that kindness will somehow create a ripple effect, thus it requires a lot of thought and/or effort. We all remember the movie Pay it Forward…
This week, I’m looking at “random acts of kindness” through a different lens. Although I’d love to do grand, impactful acts of kindness, the reality is that I’m time-constricted and prioritize my focus on being a great mom, wife, daughter, aunt and friend plus working hard on building MeaningfulWomen.com. These commitments prevent me from focusing on larger gestures at this point of my life. So instead, I’m going to focus on simple, “Small Acts of Kindness.”
I’m going to use this special “week of kindness” as a reminder to be more patient and approach every situation with love and empathy. I’m going to start in my home, for example. So often, I can muster the energy to be kind and smile when in line at the post office or while waiting patiently as someone takes their time pulling out of a parking space. However, if my husband takes his time finishing an email when I’m trying to get us out of the house, I make that impatient, unkind face that all too many husbands are familiar with. I have to realize that patience itself is work and being kind takes effort. If there is anyone I should make the effort for, it’s the people who live within these four walls with me.
Another way I can be kind is to join others doing good. For example, I just joined 211,000 people on Change.org and signed a petition urging Apple to treat factory workers who make iPhones and iPads more humanely. These poor workers often lose the use of their hands from the repetitive motion injuries. Further, they work excessive overtime, often 7 days a week and then go home to crowded dorms. The dorms have gates covering the windows because there have been so many suicides – some workers are literally killing themselves they’re so miserable working under these conditions. It’s unfathomable! I can’t help much, and it’s random in the sense that I’ll never know these people and they won’t know me, but I can push Apple a tiny bit in the right direction by signing this petition. It was a small act of kindness and it only took me about a minute.
Lastly, I’m going to take Lao Tzu’s advice that “kindness in thinking creates profoundness” and commit myself to practicing kindness in thinking. I’m going to take some time in the car every morning to do a mental reset. I’ll stop mentally reviewing my to-do list and will instead think of how I can bring joy and kindness to everyone from the cashier at the grocery store to my children.
Please inspire me, and others. What kindnesses both large and small can you do this week?
Ellen Padnos lives in Manhattan Beach, CA with her husband, Ben, her children Anthony (5), and Annie (18 months), and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lola. You can also follow her on Twitter (@ellenpadnos).