It struck me recently that people say to me a lot “You’re so nice” or “You’re so good”. It is usually after I have done something unremarkable like bake a cake when they are coming to visit, bring something homemade when I visit them, offer to mind their kids for an afternoon so they can pack for their holidays, ask them if they need anything brought back from Ireland, etc.
To me, those acts of kindness are not something to be amazed about. To my mind kindness should be a normal trait in people. I was brought up by kind, helpful people and taught that there are certain things that you just do, like
– Sending condolence cards.
– Sharing your homemade / homegrown produce with friends or neighbours.
– Offering help to others if you see that they need it, be that helping someone lift their pram down stairs, picking up something an elderly person has dropped, letting the person in the supermarket queue who only has two items go ahead of you, and so on.
– Entertaining guests for the pleasure of it – from birthday parties and dinner parties to inviting a friend who has called by to stay for dinner.
More and more I find that people exclaim how good and kind others are but don’t take up the baton and be kind themselves. Frankly I find it sad that there is a need for the organisation Random Acts of Kindness. They offer kindness resources and daily inspiration. If we’ve come to a stage where people need that, then ok – use it. But have we really come to the stage where we have to learn how to be kind?
I realise that life is very busy for most of us and many find that just managing to get through the day is stressful enough. But that is no excuse. Being kind doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of thought. You just need to open your eyes and act on what you see. You don’t need to remember everyone’s birthday or look after all the children in the neighbourhood. But open your eyes! Smile and say hello to the old man who passes you in the street. Bake a cake for the school bake sale. Offer people a cup of tea when they call to visit. Say a sincere thank you to the parcel delivey guy. Hold the door open for the person behind you when leaving a building. There are so many small ways to be nice and kind without it costing you the earth or taking up your time.
There is a saying, treat others as you would like to be treated. My fourth class teacher told us that. Is it really so hard to do?