One of the most memorable classes that I took as an undergrad was about grief and loss. Every week, a guest speaker came to class to share a personal story of a time they were impacted by the death of a loved one. The story that stuck with me was that of a mother who lost her son, Ben. It was the kindness from those around her, even complete strangers, that helped her through such a heavy loss. The kindness she received motivated her to start a non-profit, Ben’s Bells, dedicated to teaching individuals and communities about the positive impacts of intentional kindness and to inspire people to practice kindness as a way of life. Ben’s Bells motto, “be kind,” is scattered around Tucson, AZ where the non-profit began, and I’ve kept that with me ever since I first heard Jeannette tell her story. You can read all about Ben’s Bells here: https://bensbells.org/
As one of MOSAIC FAMILY’s administrative assistants, I strive to be kind to every single person that calls and to every single client that walks in our door. Why? Unfortunately, I’d like to say that people need our services during the best days of their lives but that is just not the case. The person on the other line may have been trying to call to schedule an appointment for weeks but were having anxiety about doing so or just didn’t have the energy to. The person walking into our office for the first may have just lost their mother, their spouse, or their son. Now a days, all we hear about on the news, radio, social media, are stories of people hurting one another. Recently, I decided to step back from social media applications because of this. I decided to be kind to myself. Now, that I am not staring at my phone so often, I can focus on being kind to others in the smallest of ways. How? I can say “good morning” to others in the elevator and hallway as I head to the office, I can help an elderly couple understand how to use the pop machine if they are struggling while I’m out to lunch, I can send a funny picture to a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while.
The smallest of gestures can go a long way. Research tells us that kindness benefits our physical and mental health, and that recognizing kindness in others increases a person's happiness and satisfaction. Focusing on being intentionally kind in our interactions can also improve our ability to connect with others. I believe that we need more of that now, personal connection, beyond a phone or laptop screen.
So go ahead, hold the door open for someone, let the person with one item go ahead of you at the check-out line, be kind to the barista who may not have gotten your order correct because it was her first day on the job.
Kindness is free, sprinkle it everywhere.