Kindness Doesn't Cost A Cent
by Ruby Bayan - 05/28/99
What does it take to be kind? My answer is: as much as it takes to smile. And what do you get in return? At the very least, also a smile or a word of appreciation. At most, a wealth and lifetime of favors.
But what is kindness? Webster defines kindness as the state, quality, or habit of being kind... of being sympathetic, friendly, gentle, tenderhearted, and generous... of being cordial, loving, and affectionate. Kindness is affection, good will.
Have you checked your kindness quotient lately? Not that it's a crucial element of life - it's just that a little kindness all around makes our universal pursuit of happiness a lot less stressful. Don't you think that's something we'd all welcome?
It's surprising to note that not everyone realizes that kindness begets kindness. Sometimes the only way to prove it is to initiate goodwill and then see what happens. Let's talk about how you can improve your kindness quotient.
Sympathy. Showing sympathy is not only about sending flowers for the dead. It's not just offering a handkerchief to someone weeping. Sympathy is listening -- active listening. Sympathy is helping someone deliberate on an idea, a problem, or a plan. Sympathy is putting yourself in someone else's shoes. It's working, thinking, and feeling with another person. Kindness is showing sympathy from the darkest to the brightest moments in another person's life.
When you talk to another person, are you truly interested in what he's saying or how he feels? Do you even try to understand what he's saying? The mere expression of concern is an act of kindness.
Friendship. Who doesn't know what friendship is? We say someone is friendly when he can make us laugh. We call someone a friend when he goes with us to the movies. But beyond that, friendship is sharing -- sharing a pack of potato chips or the lyrics of a new song. Friendship is also giving -- giving gifts, giving advice, giving attention. When we share, or when we give something or a part of ourselves, we demonstrate generosity. And kindness is almost another word for generosity.
Affection. Show me a man who can be affectionate without being tenderhearted, and I'll show you a man from outer space. People have different levels of showing affection, but I still have to meet someone who is totally incapable of this very human expression. The natural, human tendency to display concern and caring, no matter how seemingly trivial, adds so much to the kindness quotient.
You can show affection by complimenting an officemate for a job well done. You can show endearment by being proud of having a classmate who's kind enough to help you with your homework. Kindness is contagious. And all you need to do is be naturally tenderhearted.
Love. What better opportunity to show kindness than the times you are with your loved ones. You will say, "It goes without saying, if you love someone, you're kind to that person." Unfortunately, another reality in human nature is: people have a tendency to be most unkind to the ones they love. Why? Because they set high expectations. And when their expectations on their relationship with a loved one are not met, they get hurt and they retaliate. This is the best time to be kind.
When your husband doesn't have time for anything; when your eldest son gets into trouble; when your father just can't get it -- let your love for them prevail. During distressful times, draw on your love, and show a little kindness. Give them room to make up for lost time. Express your concern and offer your support. Tell them that nevertheless, you still love them. And before you know it, kindness flows back in return.
What does it take to be kind? A little sympathy. A show of affection. Friendliness. Love. It doesn't cost a cent. Be kind to others and spread it around. Let's make our lives a more pleasant interaction with one another.