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On Kindness

Now that the holidays are upon us, it’s a really good time to start thinking about making good manners and consideration for others a habit so that when the holidays are over, we will be fostering a better environment in the world around us without thinking much about it.

Wait…do you think you don’t have any issues with kindness? It’s possible that you don’t, of course, but sometimes–because most of us are so busy all the time–we become very emotionally impulsive and less thoughtful without even realizing it. I performed a little experiment last night and I challenge you to do something similar.

I had to stop at the grocery store as my final errand of the afternoon, and as I was driving through the parking lot the right way, a woman came screeching across the spaces in a perpendicular-to-me direction. As I started to exhibit my typical road rage-y behavior, I stopped and took a moment to breathe.

When I found the parking space I wanted, I turned the car into it, and noticed that the person in the car next to the spot I had chosen had the door wide open and was climbing out of the car. I stopped my car and instead of tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, I waited ever so patiently.

As I walked to the door of the store, a woman who was on her way out but wasn’t watching where she was going nearly ran into me. Usually when that happens I just ignore the other person and keep moving: most times the person who does the “nearly running into” doesn’t say a word. This time I smiled and said, as if it were my fault, “Oh! Excuse me!” She replied, “I’m sorry about that…excuse ME!” She returned my smile and went on her way.

The older gentleman who was posted by the door welcomed me to the store and I returned his gaze and smile, saying “Thanks! How are ya?”

I made light conversation with the cashier, and when my transaction was done I thanked her and wished her a good weekend.

These things all seem so tiny, so insignificant, but they aren’t, really. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a jerk to strangers during every interaction, but I could use some work on occasion. Last night at the grocery store, it felt good (a little weird, too!) to really put an effort into being kind to others. Our world could use more of that.

And guess what? It starts with just one person. Join me, won’t you?

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • megryansmom November 18, 2011, 11:24 am

    Funny you should post this today. I just posted about the unkindness my Glitter Gurl experienced at work.

    • Melisa November 19, 2011, 3:30 pm

      Ooh, we must have been on the same wavelength. I’ll have to go read it!

  • Connie Burke November 18, 2011, 11:31 am

    I’m in! Like you experienced, it’s really an investment in yourself and a lightened mood. Yes, it takes some degree of energy and forethought, but it’s kind of like tweeting with someone you’ve never met: it’s a connection. And isn’t that why we’re all out here?
    I ESPECIALLY do this with cranky cashiers – I always make eye contact and say, “have a great day.” It either changes their mood – or makes them wonder what you’re up to 😉
    Good post.

    • Melisa November 19, 2011, 3:30 pm

      Totally! And I think connections are even more important these days, what with all of the screen time we take up on a daily basis. Nice to make eye contact with actual people who are right in front of me on occasion, instead of always staring at avatars! 🙂

  • Patty @ A Day in My NYC November 18, 2011, 1:26 pm

    I don’t know Melisa…smiling…making small talk…turning down the road rage…I might get kicked out of NYC for doing all that. 🙂

    I’m SO KIDDING!

    Just figured I’d make you laugh…I’ve been extra nice to people given what we have been going through. It’s no one’s fault my dad is sick and I’m very mindful of not taking out my pain on anyone else.

    • Melisa November 19, 2011, 3:29 pm

      Believe it or not, I actually thought of New Yorkers when I was writing this, and thought “Hmm. New Yorkers, even the ones who are very, very nice, don’t really operate this way towards strangers in general, do they?” haha

      That might be another post.

  • As Cape Cod Turns November 18, 2011, 4:01 pm

    Good reminder Melisa! And very funny Patty 🙂

    • Melisa November 19, 2011, 3:28 pm

      Thank you! 🙂

  • Ally Bean November 18, 2011, 7:22 pm

    I like your idea to focus on being kinder during the holidays– instead of frantic. Count me in.

    • Melisa November 19, 2011, 3:28 pm

      Focus on kindness=good
      Frantic=bad.

      We might change the world yet! 😉

  • Tara R. November 19, 2011, 8:12 am

    Who knows Paying it Forward might just catch on. Routinely I let people ahead of me in a check-out line if they have only a few items, and have always been greeted with genuine thanks. That actually makes my day.

    • Melisa November 19, 2011, 3:27 pm

      I love to do that, too!

  • Grandma W November 19, 2011, 8:02 pm

    Great job. I love eye contact, that always tells you about a person. This world needs to be kinder to people to many have rage on their minds and we need to change that. I was in JoAnns today and had a coupon for $5.00 that I gave to the young lady behind me she was very greatful. I do that when ever I have left over coupons. They should be used and not just thrown away. I love to make people happy with giving away extra coupons.

    • Melisa November 22, 2011, 6:08 am

      I ALSO love to do that!! It’s like giving away free money!

  • Flawless Mom November 20, 2011, 1:50 pm

    I find when I do those things… Consciously put effort into being KIND to people, it makes my day 100% better. I’m always in a fantastic mood after an exchange with a stranger that is pleasant, rather than abrasive. I do experiments like this a lot. Mostly because it just feels good. And if it’s wrong to feel good, I don’t want to be right! (Yes. I just said that. Be kind.)

    • Melisa November 22, 2011, 6:06 am

      Oh no you didn’t! hahaha

  • Heather November 21, 2011, 7:21 am

    You never know WHAT kind of day people are having, and that’s why I TRY to do little stuff like that every day cause kindness DOES spread and it does make a difference in someone’s day! 🙂

    • Melisa November 22, 2011, 6:04 am

      THAT is so true: you never do know what someone else is going through.

  • Heather November 21, 2011, 7:22 am

    ps: some days i don’t always succeed though and i’m the one who needs the extra kindness! hahahaha.

    • Melisa November 22, 2011, 6:04 am

      I think the same is true for everyone! 🙂

  • Amanda November 21, 2011, 12:44 pm

    This bears repeating.

    Sometimes I am ashamed by how surprising I find people’s responses when I do the littlest thing—hold a door, say hello.

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • Melisa November 22, 2011, 6:02 am

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 (and I like how you put that…it’s almost like we realize at that moment just how little we connect with people these days.)

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