Posts Tagged ‘Kindness’

Jeff HairIn early August I wrote a blog post about the fact that I cut all my hair off and the consequent reactions (mostly unwanted and all unsolicited) from others. That was over two months ago and I have to admit that I’m still surprised at the frequency of times weekly when someone criticizes me for it. At one point yesterday I was just glad to be going home where I knew that neither my wife nor my dog would say anything about it the rest of the day.

Tonight I posted the following on Facebook:

“Wonder why so many people think it’s OK to tell me how much they don’t like my hair all cut off. Last time I checked, that was my call to make. I really don’t recall these folks seeking my advice on how they cut their hair. Give it a rest, folks. I was tired of messing with it. I like it super short. I’m not undergoing chemo. I’m not sick or dying or undergoing treatments. I worked hard at intentionally losing 25 pounds to get to my current weight. Sheesh…”

A friend and colleague subsequently sent me a private message that read, “‘Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt you’ was the biggest lie I’ve ever been told.” I agree.

I’m a big boy and I can handle a little criticism about how I look. I can understand the concern of those who suddenly see me with no hair and thinner than I’ve been in a couple of years. I don’t begrudge genuine queries of concern to make sure I’m OK. The point of this post, though, is to note how utterly unnecessary, inconsiderate and useless the “I don’t like your hair” conversations are.

It’s time for some folks to re-learn a lesson most of us learned around kindergarten age – “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything” – or just live by the Golden Rule and we’ll all be fine.

Please take a moment to consider how your words might affect others. Consider the possibility that it may well be better to remain silent than to voice every opinion you have, especially if those opinions are openly critical of others’ benign choices about how they appear. There are enough life and physical changes coming to pass for folks my age without adding to the list having to deal with criticism from others about simple choices related to how we look.

Kindness-MattersOur world needs more kindness.  It is a sad state of affairs when a simple act of kindness is so rare that it jumps out at us.

That happened to me today when delivering a few groceries to my mother-in-law.  Her apartment is on the 9th floor of her building.  When I got in the elevator behind an older man and woman, each of them using walkers, the man asked us what floors we wanted.  The lady said she needed the 8th floor and I said the 9th and we were on our way.  I assumed the man was also heading for the 8th or 9th floor because he didn’t push another button.

When we got to the 8th floor, the lady exited, but the man remained.  When we got to the 9th floor, I paused to allow the man to get off first, but he went for the elevator buttons again, this time saying that he was going back down to the 5th floor.  I thanked him and exited.  While walking away, I just shook my head in disbelief that the man apparently intentionally passed up his own floor just to operate the buttons for us and to get us to our floors first.  What a simple, selfless act of kindness from a man using a walker who was very much my senior!

Think about your typical day.  How many acts of kindness do you witness in others?  How many do you initiate?  Do you hold doors open for others, or do you let them close as someone else approaches, pretending you didn’t notice them coming?  Do you let cars in front of you or do you inch closer to that bumper ahead to keep another from sliding in?  How do you respond when people on the street ask for assistance?  Do you throw a few coins their way, ignore them, stop to find out their story or take them to a nearby restaurant for a meal?  How many see a family member – much less a stranger – in need and stop what they’re doing to help?  How many of us put aside our own agendas and task lists long enough to assist a coworker who is stressing out over a deadline or long list of things to get done?  How many times a day do you offer words of kindness that can encourage and lift up another soul?

Acts of kindness don’t have to be very time-consuming, although they may be.  They don’t have to cost any money, although they might.  They certainly don’t have to be planned in advance or broadcast afterward.  But they do need to be.  They need to happen, and it seems like that is only going to be the case if we are, indeed, kind people.

Kindness is not just an act; it is a character trait.  It is a quality that one chooses to value so much that it is a seemingly instinctive response to the world around us.  It may be demonstrated by those raised in environments where kindness was the norm, but it may also be a chosen response of those who experienced anything but kindness in their past – a determined response to break a chain of unhealthy behavior and replace it with something good.  Yes, kindness is a choice, but repeated often enough, it can and should become a way of life that hardly requires conscious choices any more.  It just becomes natural.

One simple example: I love stories of people in restaurant drive-through windows paying for the order of the people behind them as a random act of kindness.  Doing so tends to cause the beneficiaries to pass it on to the people behind them.

Kindness is included in that great list of spiritual gifts in Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  Kindness is an indicator that we are no longer living just for ourselves, but that our hearts have been transformed by our Maker to be more like Him.

Yesterday I started following Jeremy Scrivens on Twitter.  In his profile, he states: “Many people are unhappy at work. This matters; so I devote my life to help leaders create Cultures of Kindness & social collaboration at work.”  Just a few of his tweets from the past day include:





Acts of kindness can be so very simple, yet the impact can be great.  The impact may change immediate circumstances for the better of the beneficiary, but it may impact attitudes and future behavior which extends the life of the original act through ripples not tracked or even known by the original persons involved.  Also, the impact isn’t just on the recipients of kindness, but on the ones who extend the kindness to others.  Our motive for kindness should not be that we might feel good, yet there is something very satisfying in the soul about being kind.  We know in our hearts that it’s the right thing to do.

Today and each day this week, I encourage you to try to be more mindful about being kind to others in word and in deed.  Both can make a very big difference in someone else’s day and in their life.  And it may just make a big difference in yours as well.

Kindness matters.

I’ve been a little more stressed than normal for a few days.  Some of it is work related and some is personal.  Some is due to the crazy list of things I’m supposed to get done this week that doesn’t give me a minute to pause, even throughout the weekend ahead.  The tiring pace of the schedule is made more tiring when there isn’t even a large block of hours over the weekend to just chill and catch my breath.

That’s why I am thankful for a little bit of kindness and mercy shown to me today.  The kindness that really touched me was an extremely nice note shared publicly on our internal social network about the work I do and this person’s belief in it’s positive impact on the company.  The mercy shown was when a 6pm Friday deadline for a quiz I need to take was extended to late Sunday evening.

I knew I wouldn’t make the original deadline because of work demands, so I let the person know that I would get it done later tonight.  I usually have to do these at home on my own time, anyway, so 6pm deadlines are tough to make.  Doing it last night or any other night this week wasn’t an option, either, due to my schedule.  So you can imagine the sigh of relief when I learned that the gentleman was extending the deadline a couple of days.  Several others were also delighted at the news.

It reminds me of a general principle that I tried to follow as a parent more often than not – when you can, say ‘yes.’  The idea is to not be so rigid on things of little long-term consequence that you end up saying ‘no’ just because it’s the rule or more convenient to do so.  Sometimes it’s much better to say ‘yes’ to requests even though it may alter your plans or inconvenience you in some way.

So my thanks go to Teri for her well-timed words of encouragement and to Jim for saying ‘yes’ when he didn’t have to.

Leap year lesson #292 is Kindness and mercy make a healing salve.

Earlier this evening I looked out my front door and noticed an old man with a hunchback walking by with 4-5 grocery bags.  The man was wobbly and not able to walk many steps in a row without pausing.  His feet pointed into each other at the toes, making it more difficult to walk.

I’ve seen the man before in the neighborhood, but never trying to carry so much.  He had already walked about three blocks from where he purchased the groceries and I had no idea how much farther he had to go.  I knew I needed to offer some help.

When I caught up with him and asked if he’d like some help, he didn’t have to think long before saying “That’s very kind of you” as he let me take the bags from one hand.  I reached to get the bags from the other hand as well, but he insisted on carrying those himself.

We walked another couple of blocks as he occasionally looked up from his normal hunchbacked stare down at his feet to see what the street address was of a nearby house.  I finally asked him his house number and he told me.  The full distance from the store to his house was about 5-6 blocks – a tremendous distance for this man even if he wasn’t carrying anything.  I can’t imagine the tenacity of the man to take on that burden and attempt that distance with such a load.

We reached his house and I held the screen door open while he found his house key and unlocked the front door.  It was apparent he wanted me to give him the groceries at the door and not come in, so that’s what I did.  After thanking me again, I told him my house number and invited him to stop there anytime he’s walking by and needs something.  We parted company and I went back home.

I know nothing about this man other than he is old, he has a hard time walking, and he appears to have nobody else to help him.  Maybe next time I’ll get his name.

Leap year lesson #283 is Carry one another’s burdens – literally, if necessary.