Dear Fellow Driver,
I’m sure the importance of being kind wasn’t at the forefront of your mind this evening as you were honking rabidly at me for stopping at a red light before turning. I’m sure whatever your reasons were for such a show, you were in a hurry to get where you were going. I’d like to apologize for being in your way, for taking that few seconds out of your life, and for stopping you from such an important journey.
However, I’d also like a pause to remind you of the importance of being kind. I can’t know if you were aware of the individual driving the little blue Prius in front of you, or if you even cared. Most times, we don’t know who is driving the vehicles that share the road with us. They are more fleeting interactions…with the little red car, the raggedy van, or the big diesel truck. As short as our moment of sharing the road was, though, it was just as good of a moment as any to show a little kindness.
You see, at that moment I was so much more than just an annoying Yankee in a Prius. I was the mother of a child who had just left the emergency room for a quite serious illness. I was the wife of an airman who is preparing to leave for his 5th deployment, this time to Afghanistan once again. I was the mother of a special needs daughter who just had to be pulled from school because she was being bullied so badly for being autistic that she attempted to kill herself at 11 years old. I was all of those things as well as a woman who has been dealing with chronic migraines, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and generally horrible health from a variety of autoimmune disorders for the past 2 years.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a pity party or a “woe is me” discussion. You see, chances are that all of the other vehicles you passed on the road today had just as intricate of stories. In fact, due to your proximity to a top-rated children’s hospital, I would wager that many of the drivers in your way today were parents of children just like I was. They were parents who were terrified. They were parents who were mentally and physically exhausted. They were parents who were a little more involved in the current struggles of their children, and the chaos that their lives had been thrown into than about getting out of your way before you got frustrated with them.
Kindness Starts With You
In today’s world, we all have so much going on. We all have busy schedules and places to be. We are also surrounded by negativity everywhere we turn from horrible stories on the news each night to people being awful to one another on social media for the “lols”
Especially since our recent election so many in America seem unhappy with the current state of things ( no, this isn’t a political discussion ). So many seem upset with how individuals in our country are treated but so few seem to understand that caring and kindness start at home. It starts with them.
Our world will never get better as long as we keep passing the buck and denying our own responsibility to make it better. Rather than sitting comfortably in our own box and offering vague “thoughts and prayers” on the Internet it’s time to take responsibility for taking better care of the people in our world, friend and stranger alike.
If a friend is going through a tough time take a minute to offer them a genuine message of concern or support. Let them know that you are there for them rather than being among the masses who heart or sad face a Facebook status and call their job done. If you see someone in the grocery store trying to reach something offer assistance. Buy a coffee for the person behind you in line at Starbucks. These things, while relatively small gestures, can have a major impact on someone’s life.
It’s not just about the other person
Often, doing an act of kindness or even refraining from being a jerk has a trickle down or cyclical effect. Not only are you helping make their day a little brighter but you will find it boosts your own mood and helps you to have a better day.
This can have a compound effect as well. Not only will you be in a better mood and more likely to go on to help others but they too may feel inspired by your act to pay it forward to someone else.
Kindness Can Be Scary
Listen, I totally get it. As an introvert, it can often be easier to stay in my own lane and not really pay attention to or interact with the world of people around me. It’s more comfortable, it’s safer, and it’s familiar.
It can be scary to take that step outside of your comfort zone and help others. More often than not you will find that the positive interactions you will have will encourage you further out of your shell.
Start small and build from there. Hold a door for someone. Offer to give your seat to someone who needs it more than you. Be more patient with those around you. Once you are more comfortable you can move on to bigger and better things. The possibilities of how you can show kindness to others are limitless.
Be Kind To Yourself
It is nearly impossible to be kind to or even think of others if you are constantly wrapped up in being unkind to yourself. For many women, it has become so common that we may not even know we are doing this to ourselves.
Realize that doing your best is more important than doing everything perfectly. Give yourself permission to not worry about everything and let the universe figure it out for you.
I know. This sounds like some woo or garbage. The importance of happiness can quickly fade away in the busy lives we lead today. I’m just as busy, snarky and cynical don’t worry. I can tell you from experience, however, that it works. Really. Once you lift your spirits and start living from a place of happiness, hope, and kindness your whole world can change. In turn, you are more ready to start making the world a better place for others..even if only in small ways.
For help on letting things go, you might try mindfulness or meditation. It is something I have practiced for years and found to have a major impact on my life and my ability to be accepting and understanding of others. While there are pros and cons to meditation, for the most part, it is a practice that nearly everyone can incorporate in their lives.
It may be beneficial to look into a new hobby as well. Many underestimate the importance of hobbies in keeping our minds occupied and keeping negativity at bay. Perhaps you learn that you are a pro at painting but you were just too angry and worn out to try. By slowing down and allowing our minds to declutter while we do pleasant activities we give our bodies time to recoup from stressful days and events.
Take a Look It’s in a Book
If you want to better your life or start living a kinder, happier existence there are a couple of books I highly suggest picking up. They are both available on audible as well so you can listen while you are in your car or relaxing.
I was never a big fan of self-help type books but I decided to give each of these a chance when they came up in my recommendations. I’m so glad I did.
The first is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson. I know, with a title like that you can’t help but wonder what on earth that book is about. I assure you it’s most likely not what you are thinking. More, it involves helping to decide what is and isn’t important in your life and going like a madman for what you have decided is worth your time.
The second is You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. Yeah. Again, I know. This sounds like one a sad salesman would read after another depressing income statement or something. It’s so much more though. It’s about finding your own bullshit and kicking it to the curb so you can live a happy and fulfilling life. I thought it was an excellent read!
We’ll Never Change Unless You Do
It can be so easy to sit back and say “I’m not part of the problem” and let everyone else worry about changing. The issue in this is that as long as everyone takes this attitude the world will remain a cold and negative place.
Take that first step. Show some kindness, and take a minute to think of the people around you regardless of how small of an impact they have on your life or you think you have on theirs.
How do you show others kindness? Do you pay it forward or even volunteer anywhere? I would love to hear about all of your acts of kindness!
Stay true to yourself and most importantly, Stay Kind!
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