A New Year has begun. 2019 is underway.
In many ways for many peoples, 2018 was an unpleasant year, a year not worth repeating. Both natural and human-induced catastrophes dominated the mainstream media. Tsunamis, wildfires, mass shootings, political turmoil, earthquakes, horrific hurricanes, snowstorms, and devastating wars filled every media source imaginable.
Among folks I know, 2018 brought too many illnesses, deaths, personal tragedies, and heartbreaks. Scores of others experienced the same devastating human ramifications with equally dire consequences. Human suffering seemed to know no end.
Regardless of the origin of the hurt, we can do something to help. Acts of kindness, random or intentional, help overcome the most feared, painful physical, mental, or climatological injuries we encounter as individuals or as members of the corporate global human race.
Psychological studies have long proven that being kind to another person helped the giver as much as the receiver. I am not talking NFL football here either. Besides providing for the other person, being kind or generous rewards you with a positive feeling.
I’m no psychologist, but it only makes sense to have a positive outlook on life to be observant and responsive to others in need, whether it’s a relatively minor deed or a significant commitment. So be kind to yourself so you can be kind to others.
The studies show that generosity is contagious. We are all touched when we see someone help another person. It encourages us also to do something altruistic.
That fact should energize us to be generous to others in any situation. And by others, I mean anyone, any race, nationality, or religion. After all, a founding principle of our country is that all people are created equal. Though injustices dot our history into the present, that entreaty has nevertheless stood the test of time. We, too, must make it last. We do so by being kind.
Your generosity doesn’t have to be opulent either. Bigheartedness can take only a second, or you can spend quality time with others. You choose.
How can you help? If you encounter someone with a homemade sign asking for any assistance, please don’t ignore the individual. At the very least, offer the person a bottle of water. Know someone who has experienced trauma? Send them a card or a text message. Offer to sit with them. Hold their hand. Listen to their needs.
We all know someone who has suffered from depression, anxiety, loss of a loved one, or a terminal illness. The list could go on and on. Just knowing that you care can mean the world to that person or family.
I know personally that in such situations it’s no time to hesitate. As an example, I so appreciated unexpected visits from friends while in the hospital years ago.
In this fast-paced world of instant messaging, smartphones, social media apps, we become vulnerable. If someone hurts you, instead of revenge or avoidance, try a different approach, keeping your own personal safety paramount.
Ask questions. Listen thoughtfully. Be present in each moment. Keep your mind in the here and now instead of anticipating the absolute worst. Breathe deeply. Step back. Wait before responding angrily.
I don’t mean to trivialize deep physical or mental distress. Always keep yourself safe. But in a secure environment, perhaps with neutral, trusting people, reconciliation can reign.
If we all work together, our controllable behaviors can be transformed into tolerable and acceptable acts of kindness. It’s a New Year. Let us together make it a better, kinder one than 2018.
Let 2019 be the Year of Kindness.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2018