Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Being Kind

Some things really piss me off about people. One of those things is when people push past others on the bus without any kind of regard for the person they are sending sprawling, usually crutch first, into a seated person. Why can't people be more kind?

As I was on my way to work, I and a few others were getting on board the bus, there was one elderly lady amongst us. As we all shuffled on, a middle aged lady and a well-to-do looking man literally pushed past the older woman trying to insert her ticket in the wrong side of the machine and upside down.

I quickly said I'd do it for her and put it in the right way. She looked at me like she was about to cry and said, "Thank you dear, I can't see very well, I don't want to be a nuisance and hold everyone up." What a darling. As I was getting off at my stop she grabbed my arm and said thank you again about three times and said I was lovely.

Well, that did put a pep in my step, and the thoughts in my head were something like, I AM lovely aren't I, helping out an elderly woman.

Conveniently, the next day I read an article about random acts of kindness on Mamamia. This made my brain tick over time to all the Random Acts of Kindness that we can do for people, but rarely do.

From a purely selfish point of view, I don't see why we don't do kind things all that often. I mean, regardless of the other person, it makes you feel great! It makes you feel as though, yes I am pretty awesome and I am a kind person. This thinking, however selfish, does have positive effects for others.

The problem is that, being kind isn't that big a deal to people anymore, probably because we get the "I am pretty awesome" feeling from so many superficial things nowadays.

Remember the stories of the good old days, when we helped our neighbours, chivalry was alive and well and the elderly deserved our respect and patience. My theory is that this was because we didn't have much of the self inflating ego things like brands, technology, a dominant hierarchy of clothes, to make us feel like we were someone. You were someone because of the things you DID.

Living in a city there is that idea of alienation, anonymity and separation, but personally, coming from a place where everyone knows your name (yeah, like in Cheers), I can't help but shake off some of those things that you do when you know everyone. My boyfriend doesn't quite get why I always say thanks to the bus driver or why I get pissed off when he rustles his chip packet all through a movie because it might annoy others.

It seems some of the things I do aren't very city-like. It's weird to him because as he points out, it isn't actually necessary when most people don't care.

In my head I think, but what about the people who do? It's nice to do nice things, I like seeing someone smile when they aren't expecting someone to be kind, it makes my day and makes me feel pretty awesome and the high lasts a lot longer than buying a nice piece of clothing, maybe why I am writing about this and not a recent purchase.

I can't help but notice there are a number of city folk who don't really do the kindness thing, I mean they are no doubt kind to their friends, they just don't bother with others. I'm definitely not always kind to people either. We're under the illusion that we get behind by being kind. Let someone on the bus in front of you, they get the last seat. Carry someones bags to their car, risk being stuck in a long conversation. Wave a car to go in front of you, you're stuck at the next set of lights for 5 minutes.

It's a very western way of thinking. I have a friend from Nepal who is genuinely kind to everyone, his time, his effort and his patience are never too much for someone. To be honest it was confusing when I first met him. I wasn't sure if he was being genuinely nice. Isn't that sad.

I know society has a problem when we get confused about why someone is kind all the time. I am no saint in any sense of the word, I hate most humans, most of the time. There is that saying that goes something like, be nice, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. It is true and I want to be nicer to people around me from now on, even if it means waiting a few extra seconds to let someone on public transport first, or getting up so someone can sit. Hey, it also makes you feel great and doesn't cost a dime!

If you want some inspiration or a bit of encouragement check out these sites I found below:

Which actually sends you free kindness cards, the purpose of these are almost like a pay it forward idea. If you do something nice, say pay for someones coffee you leave a little card which urges them to one day repay the favor for someone who needs it. Or hell, just leave them anywhere and someone might see it and do something kind. Wouldn't that be worth it?

Which has ideas, stories and resources for the movement of being more kind. They have also come up with the idea of reporting acts of kindness rather than crime, because we see enough of the latter. To check out this idea go to their website or on twitter @reportkindness if you want to report kindness you can tag something #reportkindess in your posts.

This website holds so many resources for spreading kindness not only personally but in business, schools, workplaces and councils. It is an advocate of World Kindness Day and asks the question, What kind act have you done today?
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