I’m seeing a lot of posts about this topic lately. How kindness and consideration for others seems to have gone by the wayside. Why is that, do you think? Is it because we’re so inward focused? The “Me Generation” overly concerned with getting “their fair share”? I even saw somewhere that, politically, kindness is considered “weakness”. Um, EXCUSE ME?!!! And that helping those less fortunate than ourselves is a political quagmire and politicians should stay away from it. Uh, WHAT THE HECK? (Sorry. Backing away now from the politics.)
I find rudeness and lack of courtesy everywhere. On the freeway, where other drivers speed up to prevent you from changing lanes in front of them. In grocery stores, where carts bump into you and the “drivers” of those carts glare, as if you’d jumped in front of them and forced them to hit you. In sports – bounty, anyone? Rudeness on the internet is big business, as well.
Bloggers will slam something – whether it be a book, a political figure (okay, that’s too easy), a TV show, a movie or their neighborhood – and it will go viral. Others will get on the slam-wagon and write things in a blog comment they would never say to someone’s face. That blogger will then get their 15 minutes of blog fame, which was most likely their total intent. But will it last? (Does it ever last?)
Where’s the love? Where’s the joy?
Since I started commuting to work again, I have gone out of my way to do an experiment. I used to be a Type A driver when I commuted, 12 or so years ago – swearing and honking and speeding and tailgating and damn the consequences. I found out a few months ago that I don’t react well to that any more – it makes me angry and my stomach gets tied up in knots. So now, I go out of my way to be kind.
I make sure now to leave a lot of room between me and the car in front of me, so other cars
can merge onto the freeway. I put fun music on, not the news – news makes me tense. Country music or hard-driving rock n’ roll will allow me to relax. I’ve been doing this for 7 months, and I find I can enjoy my drive home now.
This experiment has bled into other areas of my life. I let people go in front of me at the grocery store when they only have a couple of items, and I’ve got a full basket. I smile at people I accidently bump into – or almost bump into – and usually get a smile back. I hold doors open at my local coffee shop for men or women with kids and two or three drinks to juggle.
Chores that my boys usually do, I’ll do every now and then to lighten their load. I try to corral my shoes and put them in my closet, rather than sprinkle them all over the house. I pay bills when no one else is around, so I can whimper in private and not disturb anyone. I make breakfasts for whomever is up, and I do my best to make dinner every night – cooking and feeding my family is one of my ways of showing my love. Most of the home stuff is second nature, but every now and then I have to really concentrate on being kind.
It’s not much to ask, really. We can never know the circumstances of someone else’s life; what they’re going through, whether good or bad. We’re all in basically the same boat, after all. Say please and thank you, especially to those you love. Give a smile, a few extra car lengths in front of you, stop to let someone cross the street. It’s not much and yet, it can mean a lot to a complete stranger.
I have one story that illustrates this vividly. It happened to me about ten years ago; I was newly-laid off during the whole dot com bust, and the hubby had taken a day job down in Santa Monica. I had the time, was in the area, so I parked and was going to meet him for lunch.
I wasn’t anything special – I think I was wearing jeans, a tee shirt, maybe a blazer. The sun was shining, there was a light breeze – it was a beautiful autumn day and I was going to see my beloved husband. I guess I was smiling.
I was in the Wilshire Boulevard crosswalk when I noticed a man a half-block north of me. He was staring at me; as I crossed the street, he walked toward me, picking up his pace. I had just turned to go up the steps of my husband’s office building, when he stopped me.
“Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you.” He looked me in the eyes – an attractive man in his late 30s, business attire -and he said, “But I just had to tell you – you are a beautiful woman.” Then he hurried on his way.
Now, cold reflection says he probably thought I was someone else; but his statement that day made me feel like a beautiful woman. He didn’t have to say it; he could easily have just gone past me without a word. But he took the time to make me – a complete stranger – feel like a million bucks. I absolutely floated the rest of the day, and the memory of that encounter is crystal clear. (I’m interesting – I have “good energy” – but I am Not Beautiful in the classical sense and never have been. And I’m okay with that!)
Being kind should be second nature. It isn’t. How much would the world (or at least our own little corner of it) improve, if we all started being kind? (I am talking about deliberate acts of kindness, not random ones.) I’m certainly not perfect; but I am trying, very hard, to change my ways. Kindness, and with my eyes open (on the one hand, I tend to be overly suspicious; on the other hand, I get sucked in very easily).
What act of kindness impacted your life, that you remember to this day? I’d really love to hear them! Hugs, everyone – hugs!
A couple bloggers that go out of their way to help those around them: check out Jennifer Louden at Dispatches of Love & Insight; and Susannah Conway’s Blog . I’m new to Susannah, but I’m loving what I see.
Coming up this Friday – wine reviews – New Zealand, Italy and South Africa!
The most recent kindness came from Handsome who brought me doughnuts. I know he really buys them for himself, but he gives them to me and says “they are for you.”
Truly, every day I’m with friends, real or virtual, that is what warms my heart.
I hear you, Vicki! Friends are the best!
Amen to that!
Small acts of kindness every day are so appreciated. When I was younger, I took for granted that when I went to a shop the person at the cash register serving would say please and thank you. Not anymore! Everyday manners and politeness are hard to come by. We’re so busy with our hectic, modern lives that we forget the pleasantries. I’m going to try to be a little kinder and more considerate every day.
Welcome, Emma! Yes, it’s sad how the everyday please and thank you has fallen by the wayside. I’m most aware of it when my kids do something they’re supposed to do – like take the trash out, or clean the kitchen. I make sure I say thank you, to let them know how much I appreciate it. I’m hoping they are absorbing that lesson, lol!
I think it takes even more energy to flip somebody off and be in a snarly mood all day than just to smile and take it with a grain of salt – whatever “it” is.
I remember one night there had been a terrible accident, I was driving to the hospital where my nephew was in ICU and they weren’t sure he would make it. Luckily, it was super-late at night, but I was so preoccupied I ran a cherry-red light. Since then I’ve kind of backed off the idea that all drivers who cut me off or run a light are deliberately being jerks. Possibly they, too, are preoccupied with terrible news. I try to smile and send a silent blessing in their direction.
It’s not always all about us – and since I’ve been looking for the good, rather than the bad, unsurprisingly, I’m finding it more often.
Beverly, isn’t that the truth? If we look for the bad, we will definitely find it. Why not, then, look for the good? For that is out there, as well. And you’re right – it takes energy to be snarly!
For a reality check of how far we’ve fallen from being kind, I encourage you to set your DVR to record Father Knows Best on Sundays at 5:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. on Channel 5 (in L.A.) Now, I KNOW that even back in the late fifties and early sixties FKB wasn’t how things ‘really’ were. But many people strived to be like the characters in that show and I think the world was a kinder/better place.
A time that stands out to me where someone was really kind to me was many years ago when I was a cop working patrol. It was my first day back from vacation and the whole time I was driving to work I had the nagging feeling I was forgetting something. I got to work to get into my uniform only to discover I didn’t have my duty gun. I immediately remembered that I’d had to qualify (take a shooting test) while I was on vacation and I’d brought my gun home so I wouldn’t have to drive from home to work to the Academy to shoot – I could go straight from home to the Academy.
Because I was highly regarded for ‘having my act together,’ this situation was a real humiliation. I had no choice but to go the Watch Commander and tell him I would be late to Roll Call because I’d left something at home and had to go retrieve it.
When he asked me what I’d forgotten, I was mortified but told him the truth. He asked what kind of gun I carried and I told him. His reply? “Well, today is your lucky day. I’ve got a spare Beretta in my locker.” He stopped whatever he was doing, went to his locker and retrieved the gun. Up until now, no one was the wiser 😉
Kathy, what a wonderful story – what a wonderful guy your Watch Commander was! That is true character. Thanks so much for sharing!
Hi Christine! I have been so bummed by the rudeness everywhere. I remember when you’d go shopping or to a restaurant/drive-thru and those assisting you would be nice, polite, wish you a good day. Now you’re lucky if the aim hits the right place on the table with your meal. People act like others are bothering them even when it’s their job to assist someone. I just don’t get it. What happened to saying thank you and being courteous? I’m by no means perfect, but I do say please and thank you. I let people cut in front of me in line. Yesterday a lane was shut down and people were having to merge. This guy behind me was so insistent he wasn’t going to let anyone in front of him that he nearly rear-ended me several times and was so close I’m sure a gnat couldn’t get between us. I ended up letting 4 people in front of me that couldn’t get between us. Of course it irritated him and he honked at me. Why don’t people understand if everyone slows just a little and lets someone in, everything moves faster and more smoothly. Cutting them off just backs everything up and everyone has to stop. Okay…done with my rant.
I was having a particularly bad day a while back, was ruminating on it while sitting in my car in line at Starbucks (whose staff is always friendly by the way). I guess I looked depressed or something. When I got to the window to pay, the guy there told me that the woman in front of me had paid for mine as I looked like I was having a bad day. Cheered me right up that someone would be so kind to a perfect stranger. 🙂
Wow – I’ve heard about things like that happening, but never to someone I knew. That’s totally awesome, Rhonda!
I liked reading this post. Most of the time when we’re mean, we make ourselves more miserable than we make anybody else. I think we all come a place in life where it’s not worth the effort it takes to be mean (or impatient or rude or whatever you want to call it). Being nice is an alternative that doesn’t hurt anybody.
Oh, what a great thought, Catie – “Being nice is an alternative that doesn’t hurt anybody.” Now if only we can dose all the world leaders with that…
Great blog today, Christine – I see a lack of human kindness sometimes, although I ultimately believe there’s good in everyone to some degree. I think the internet age, has made this generation insensitive in part, because you don’t have to look the person in the eye to bash them or say mean things. But I will tell you, that when my daughter flipped her car on a canyon road, and she lay in the car upside down strapped into the seatbelt, a few roadside workers, came rushing to her aid and helped her get out of the car. The car was totaled but she excaped with only a scratch on her pinkie, I kid you not. By the time I got there, the guys had taken off, and my daughter was with a highway patrolmen, but I was soooo incredibly thankful to them for helping her and for making sure she was alright. They stayed with her until help got there.
So that’s the kindest thing that’s ever happened to me… someone, a few strangers, taking care of my daughter. I will be grateful to them for the rest of my life.
Charlene, truly the kindness of strangers keeps the world together. How wonderful for your daughter that those roadside workers were there for her! And how blessed was your daughter? Terrific story, thanks so much!
When I lived in Italy, I went to visit Pompeii one weekend. I had seafood for lunch; it was bad; I got food poisoning. I remember sitting on the high Pompeii curb, head between my knees, dry heaves (by that point there was nothing more to come up). Two U.S. servicemen saw me, took me to a hotel, paid for my room, put me to bed. I don’t even really remember it, because I was so terribly ill, except that I spent most of the night sitting on the bathroom floor, being sick.
I never knew who the two young men were, but it was incredibly kind and generous of them to take their time during R & R day to tend to me, even pay for the room. I’ve never forgotten it and when I see someone in distress, it’s the least I can do to pay them back.
Wow, Sarah! What a great story. Chivalry still exists!
Way back when I commuted in LA County, I was the type A. Then I tried the laid back approach and guess what??? It took about the same time to go the same distance, but I didn’t grind off any tooth enamel. Now that I’m out of that locale I find there are still rude drivers (and BAD drivers) but people still appreciate being invited to go ahead of me in the grocery lane, when they just have a case of beer to my bags of veggies (and a few bottles of wine!)
Mona, it’s amazing, isn’t it? How being laid back can still get you where you need to go in the same amount of time? Hugs hon!
Robert Heinlien said two things signal a society is crumbling. The big one was rudeness and bad manners. I guess I’m weird (or it’s the Canadian in me) but I hold doors for anyone behind me and I say thanks if someone holds it for me. I’m so extreme I say excuse me when I burp when I’m alone. It’s a reflex. LOL
I know I’m appalled at the coldness some people show. Despite the fact that the economy sucks and a lot of people are out of work, even out of their homes there are some people who act likes it’s their fault and they don’t deserve assistance.
My latest good deed was around Christmas just passed. I was at the grocery store getting a few things – about $30 worth. At the cashier I found I’d forgotten my bank card and no money on me. I was going to push the cart back and leave empty handed when the cashier calls out “It’s taken care of.” She had to say it a couple of times before it sank in. It was the man behind me. It really made me feel good about people.
Last week I was downtown walking to the library after spending $75 to get my license renewed when this young man asked for change to eat. I had my lunch in my pocket – an apple. I gave it to him.
Pat – now I’m worried. How long do we have before we crumble? Great stories – thanks for sharing!
I’ve got a great one that happened to me this past weekend. Though, I know that I receive acts of kindness, smiles and politeness on a daily basis from the oddest places. I talk to people all the time, wherever I go. I look people in the eye and I talk to them. I comment on their shoes, or glasses or jackets if I like them, I comment and ask them about a particular item if I’m at the checkout counter, and in almost all cases (except for a few) I get a pleasant response in return. Even driving…I let people go in front of me, I leave room, I don’t go around you on the right side if you’re stopped at a stop sign or going through a school zone if there are children present and I am sort of in chill mode most of the time driving. But I digress. Last Saturday, that horrible rainy day, I leave my garage and head for the gas station. Just as I’m about to turn Left into the gas station I run out of gas. I’m half in the opposing lane and cars are just about to cross the intersection so I put the car in neutral and push it so there’s a bit of a path to get around me in the back. All of a sudden a guy in his maybe 20’s with a coffee in his hand comes running up to me and starts to push the back of my car. We inch it a little more and we’re both huffing and puffing and then another guy probably in his 30’s comes running over and we can almost get it into the gas station but there is an incline. So, both the guys go over to another kid in an SUV and ask if he will assist. So he comes over and me and the 3 guys start pushing my car up the incline and into the gas station lot. I thank them all profusely and then the guy with the coffee goes into the gas station, buys me a gas can, fills it up and helps me put the gas in my car. I go to pay him for his help, find out I have no money (par for me) and he says…”don’t worry about it. I was glad to do it and you pay it forward.” I grabbed him and hugged him coffee and all and assured him I would do a random act of kindness for someone. He goes off with his coffee and umbrella and walked away. A great day in this town that sometimes I think sucks! Well, I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t.
Melissa, that’s a wonderful story! It sounds like you’re in the L.A. area – its funny, but I know you’re right – people jump to help a woman with car trouble. It’s lovely to see.
thanks for such a heartwarming post. i actually find people to be quite kind as a rule. i’ve lived in several parts of the US and europe and have found people to be the same the world over: fundamentally good. like i always tell my children, you have to remember that the strange stories on the news are “newsworthy, ie noteworthy”. in other words outside the norm. whatever the occasion, you can always find someone extending a hand in kindness.
For the most part, you are absolutely correct. In one-on-one situations especially, people are very willing to lend a hand. But get that same kind person behind the wheel of a car, and they turn into raving lunatics! Or…maybe that’s just me? lol…
Thanks for stopping in, Therese!
Cool post. I have always been amazed when people helped me out – having led an excessively adventurous life, I found myself held together with plaster a few too many times, and people always have helped me. Now that it’s permanent, I often am dependent on the kindness of strangers, and I’m still amazed (and thankful) by the number of people who offer, including young men, the last group I’d expect. Holding open doors, picking up stuff I’ve dropped… lots of things. The few who don’t, I smile and greet them as warmly as I do everyone else – for all I know they’re having a really bad day, and a smile goes a hell of a long way.
Tom, you are so right – you never know when that one smile will totally perk up someone else’s day. Thanks so much for stopping by!
I remember walking my big dog in L.A. and she stopped to do her business. I got out my baggie and leaned down to pick it up as I always do, and a black Porsche, with a nice looking man driving it, pulled over to the curb. My first reaction was, “Uh oh.” Then he grinned and said, “Everyone always complains when people don’t pick up after their dogs, so I just wanted to stop and say thank you.” Then he drove off. It made me smile.
How cool was that guy? What a great story, Roben!
What a lovely post. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in being in a hurry and whatever we have going on. And it seems MANY people are that way in stores and on the road. I’m always amazed at the amount of people who pull out in front of me with a car OR a cart, and I admit, sometimes it’s hard to keep my mouth shut.
As for the most recent act of kindness I witnessed, it would have to be at the restaurant the other day. Seems like so many kids don’t give up their seats for adults anymore, and if they do, it’s because a parent tells them. We were waiting to be seated, and an older couple came in. A family of four with two kids around 10 or so were waiting, and the two little ones immediately got up and offered the elderly people their seats. And they weren’t even their grandparents, lol. That made my day!
Great that you’re addressing this. Rudeness abounds.
I had a situation years ago when my kids were little. I wanted to buy them hot dogs for lunch, but had no cash. A young woman just paid for them. What a blessing!
There are good, kind people in this world.
I try to remember that generosity and pass it on.
Great post, Christine. So many people are “Me! Me!Me!” these days. If I need a reminder about kindness I just need to look at my hubby. He’s always doing little things for people including me.
We all have stories of people behaving badly (in fact, there is a daily segment on our local news station that has that name and it’s all about people, well, behaving badly toward each other). Anyway, I was very pregnant and stopped at a stop light and a blind man was going round and round in the middle of the intersection and I had to get out of my car (5 cars back from the front car) and waddle to the intersection and help the guy over to the sidewalk. Everyone else sat in their cars and watched. What the HECK?
What a beautiful story Christine!! So wonderful. I agree, we can’t control others but we can control ourselves and our own level of kindness. Sometimes I find myself getting wound up, irritated and in a rush and I remind myself “slow down, take it easy, what’s your hurry…” It’s easier to let someone merge in, let someone go ahead, and to smile graciously at others. I think in doing that, you will find more and more that you start to SEE the kindness in others reflected back – rather than the negativity! It’s as if we are a mirror to the world! Great post and GREAT reminder! Thank you!
You got an “Amen!” from me, Christine. I have especially been discouraged by the growing lack of courtesy on our highways. I grew up in a world where we Texans allowed others to pass and waved when someone did a nice turn. We’re all in the same boat, trying to accomplish a list of to-do’s, but the journey is as important as the destination. Thanks for the reminder.
I have been the recipient and contributor of acts of kindness.
A number of years ago, in the middle of the night, I was headed home at 3 AM (from the hospital, i had been called in)and decided to stop at the grocery store, to save a trip the next day. I purchased my stuff and placed it in the back seat of my car. When I got home, I couldn’t find my purse to take in the house. I went back yo the grocery store and someone had turned it in at the counter. (Nothing was missing, it had been found in the parking lot. ; )
Another time, I was leaving a large store and when parking my empty cart in the parking lot when finished, I see someone had left a purse in an empry cart. I took the purse inside, and left it at the customer service counter (took 10 minutes to leave it) As I was backing out, I see a woman with a frantic look on her face, rushing across the parking lot. I rolled down my window, and hollered, “Hey, did you leave something in a cart?” She rushed over and said she had left her purse. I explained that it had been left inside at the desk. With tears running down her face, she reached into my SUV, threw her arms around me, gave me a bit hug, and said, “Bless you. I can’t thank you enough.” That really made my day. Remember everyone needs to pay it forward.
Thank you for this wonderful post, sweetie.
Just the other day, I got off the phone with a business contact and found myself smiling because he was genuinely pleasant and sweet. I work with event planners, who are doing a fairly fast-paced, stress-ridden job, and they’re often brusque as a result. This guy was just a pleasure to work with. (He was Canadian, so perhaps it proves Pat’s Brown’s point.)
It seems like common civility falls by the wayside because everyone’s so rushed. Which reminds me I need to write a thank you note….