We live in a very fast-paced society. We all have different lives and plans to follow and projects to complete. And now we have our phones to bury our noses in at any passing moment of idle activity.
That’s why subtle instances of simple kindness and courtesy seem so extraordinary. When someone, no matter their gender, holds a door open for you. Or you make eye contact with a stranger on the sidewalk and they give you a little smile or wave. Even people you know making the effort to ask about little details in your life can seem so powerful. Except in the retrospect of everything going on throughout a single day, they might only last a moment. Yet they can make an incredibly long-lasting impact.
Because we are so preoccupied and focused on getting through the day in the quickest, most efficient way possible, remembering to do these simple acts feels unnecessary, something over the top to worry about. Which writing it out, seems very ridiculous to think taking out your earbuds when ordering food is too much to ask of people. We’ve just come to get used to not thinking about the impact of everyday mannerisms. By that point, we’re already onto wondering what is happening next.
People aren’t perfect. Some days we sure don’t feel like putting on a smiling face for others. But we all go through these negative emotions. You never know what other people are going through, especially strangers. We’ve all had times when we felt like we needed to put on a mask and carry on a facade when all we wanted to do in those moments is scream or cry or curl up in a ball. And in those times, what seems like a minute gesture could make a world of difference to the recipient. In some cases, it be the one thing that convinces them to live another day. That’s powerful. All from a random act of kindness.
In light of Suicide Awareness Month, I know I’ve received plenty of information on how to find the telltale signs of someone suffering suicidal thoughts. But professionals don’t teach us how to find symptoms that aren’t visible and obvious. Depression can easily go unnoticed in high-functioning people. Even the people suffering may not know they are suffering if they learn how to function despite daily mental struggles and setbacks. It becomes normal and second nature. But that doesn’t mean the emptiness and numbness just disappears; even on good days, it still resides in the background, coloring everything in life in a foggy mist.
So when we make the conscious effort to simply be a good person, you never know what implications that brings. How people remember those who perform those random acts of kindness because it demonstrates a personality that is not only compassionate, but also conscious of their actions and their potential. You don’t devalue human interaction, you embrace and appreciate it. Even as someone who enjoys minding her own business and not needing any extra socializing than required, it’s still so important act mindfully and consider how every opportunity is open for something positive. Especially for the pessimists out there, a realistic understanding of the innate goodness of humanity is a great reminder in violent and devastating times.
Social media provides even more opportunities for spreading kindness even further. Chances are, you’ve smiled at a compliment on an Instagram photo or a thoughtful shared post to your Facebook wall. It’s not healthy to rely on social media engagement for a positive self esteem, but using the platforms with good intentions has the ability to reach people like never before with hope and inspiration. Cyberbullying and trolling and all of those fun people out there who specifically go to accounts and posts just to spread hate demonstrate the double-edged sword at play with social media, making it even more crucial to make that extra effort to simply .
While not acknowledging every person you pass on the street is quite different from outright strategic trolling, there’s still something intimate and special about seeing a little extra compassion in a hectic day. Chances are you’ll benefit just as much as the recipient from just setting a goal for giving one compliment a day. As we go about our days, we are very focused on ourselves and our daily lives, but we can’t forget how our lives impact the environment around us, others and all. The connections you make with others, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem, are irreplaceable. We are social creatures. Our instincts are to seek and value the company of others. But the atmosphere we exist in today encourages us to take the easy way for everything. What is most convenient, isn’t always the best. Especially when it comes to good will and courtesy.
So go out there. Support random acts of kindness. Thank the people who work so hard behind the scenes to make your life better. Smile at people on the street. Hold the door open for people. It’s self-explanatory, but if you needed the reminder, take this as a sign to surprise someone with a little extra kindness and thoughtfulness today.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie