Kindness Matters

On a typical day, we make over 35,000 decisions – how much creamer to add to a mug of coffee, whether to wear a pantsuit or skirt to work, where to sit on the morning train, what to prepare for dinner. Decisions, decisions. Some are routine, while others take more consideration; we may even have to sleep on them. But the easiest decision of all is just to be kind.

Why choose kindness?

Unlike our Starbucks coffee fix or empty gas tank, kindness costs nothing. It takes little time or energy and is readily available to offer and receive 24/7. Kindness doesn’t expire or get old. It never goes out of style like our wardrobes. No special talent or training is required, and we all have it available to share. How great is that?

As a child, I recall watching my grandfather interact with a disgruntled employee at a convenience store. She was dismissive and rude, making others grit their teeth and bite their tongues. But my grandfather was patient and kind, persevering with tenderness and humor until her icy layers thawed.

I wondered why my grandfather paid the woman so much attention when it was easier to walk away and complain to a manager. He explained that we weren’t aware of her challenges. She may have been served divorce papers earlier that day or sat beside a sick child all night in the emergency room. She might have received an eviction notice or worked twelve hours to provide the basics for her family. Maybe she was battling cancer. For these unknown reasons, my grandfather practiced patience and compassion when dealing with irritable people. Rather than reciprocate negativity, he suggested I lend my smile to someone without one. Ever since then, I haven’t stopped smiling.

I have amazing role models to thank for demonstrating acts of compassion and neighborliness. Their imprint of kindness now lies at my core. In my younger years, I volunteered at a warehouse, packing donated canned goods for food-insecure community members and participated in clothing drives. I visited lonely nursing home residents and assisted blind students in college test-taking at my university.

As a volunteer wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, I’ve discovered the joy of bringing hope and happiness to children battling serious illnesses. There is nothing more powerful than a granted wish. And every wish is made possible through the kindness and generosity of others in a collaborative effort.

When I wrote my debut novel, A Hundred Days Till Tomorrow, it was important to provide an entertaining storyline that conveyed inspiring messages. My characters exude kindness and reflect goodness. Readers witness how simple yet selfless acts yield powerful results and lay the foundation for lifelong relationships.

Simple is the key word here because kindness needn’t involve grand gestures or huge time commitments. Our statements and actions alone have a heavy impact. A genuine compliment can make another person feel noticed and appreciated; everyone deserves to be seen and heard. So let’s tell the cashier she did a great job ringing up our order and thank the postal worker for delivering our mail in a thunderstorm.

We can hold the door for the people behind us and offer our seats to the older generation, take in the mail for the elderly neighbor and bless someone with a hot meal the next time we cook that huge pot of sauce. Let’s run an errand for the young mom who just had a baby or a grandma who struggles with mobility. Pick flowers from the garden and leave them on the doorstep of someone housebound. Provide bottled water for sanitation workers on a hot summer day.

Perhaps the easiest way to show kindness is to lend our ears and listen. By being the audience veterans deserve, we can gift them undivided attention – no glances at the cellphones, no wandering eyes, no yawns or fidgets. Let’s show gratitude for their sacrifices and value their courageous life lessons.

As we strive to be more compassionate with those around us, we must also be gentle and patient with ourselves. Self-care starts with less criticism and more praise, fewer negative thoughts and more encouraging ones. We can look in the mirror and find the positives rather than highlight the flaws. Let’s take that break when we need one without offering excuses or feeling guilty.

By prioritizing our mental and physical health, establishing boundaries and maintaining good habits, we’re more likely to uplift others. If we are willing to lend others a hand, let’s give ourselves two for a well-deserved self-hug.

The thing about kindness is there are unlimited opportunities to show it, no need to conserve it, and everyone benefits from it. Win, win, win! You might even say kindness is contagious, so let’s share it like the winter flu. In doing so, we’ll make the world a better place – no tissues or Nyquil needed.

The next time we are at grocery store, let’s allow that flustered mom with two crying babies and an overflowing shopping cart to cut the line. Sure, it will delay our checkout, but it could change the trajectory of her entire day. Imagine holding that much power to make a difference? When it comes to being kind, we can all be superheroes.

l. s. case
L. S. Case is a twenty-year volunteer wish granter for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hofstra University and author of the book "A Hundred Days Till Tomorrow." Before embarking on her author journey, she spent over a decade with Lia Sophia jewelry. Her passion for helping others transformed countless women’s lives, one necklace at a time. In 2017 she co-founded a nonprofit organization and currently serves on its board of directors. L. S. is a lifelong resident of Long Island. Her life’s joy is the time she spends with her husband, family and a tempera­mental cockatiel. She is always on the lookout for her next adventure. You can find out more about her on her website.

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