Chain messages spreading through email usually start with a convincing argument that this “chain” is really worth spreading (unless it’s not). Such messages often repel me. Regardless of how clichéd it sounds, I want to write about something that is worth sharing. Here is an invitation to step out of the anonymous world of virtual reality social networks, to push the keyboard aside, and to give a living form to an emoticon.
So, what is it about?
For a moment, let’s look back nostalgically at Christmas. One of the many things I like about Christmas is that people are kinder, more accommodating, more grateful, and more generous. And the world is more beautiful, isn’t it? Unfortunately, most of the time, the holidays end, and with them, all efforts to make others happy. However, opportunities to be kind to others present themselves every day in different situations. Let’s just take a moment to think about what has made us happy, maybe on a sad day, such as an unexpected invitation to coffee or lunch, a smile from a stranger, a compliment that made us feel better, or anything else. (When we think about it, we tend to smile again.) Now, let’s ask ourselves when was the last time we made someone happy? Today, yesterday, or do we have to go back to a distant past? It is true that we tend to expect more of what we could get rather than planning what we could give. Maybe it’s time for a little revolution in our thinking. The list of New Year’s resolutions has probably already been reduced for some. Congratulations to those who haven’t. What about taking a little inspiration from the Kindness & Co project, which came up with the idea of globally spreading kindness? You buy a postcard, put some money in it, add an encouraging word, and send it to someone or leave it somewhere. It’s quite simple.
How to do it?
Once a wise man said that unexpected kindness is the strongest, least expensive, and most undervalued agent of human change. We have become somewhat immune to the fact that daily news in the media is filled with negativity. And we no longer see ourselves as capable of shifting this paradigm towards positivity. But that doesn’t mean we are helpless. Wishing for change won’t change anything, but if we decide to act right now, everything will change. Simple acts of kindness, such as giving someone an unexpected compliment, doing something extra, not just what is expected of me, deciding to apologize before someone gets angry with me, calling someone to ask how they are doing without needing anything from them… it’s important to be creative. To think ahead and plan who and what I want to focus on. Spontaneity has the same effect. For example, when we leave extra money in a coffee shop to cover the coffee for the customer after us… We can be specific and targeted and remain anonymous. This way, we avoid performing kindness out of calculation, expecting others to repay us. We probably won’t see immediate results, but it will come back to us at a time when we least expect it, from someone we least expect it from.
And why bother?
It may all sound sweet and nice, but the question arises, what will we get out of it? There is a certain paradox that says the more one pursues their own happiness, the more it eludes them. Because happiness needs to be approached indirectly and it itself is only a by-product of a meaningful life. Bringing joy to others makes sense because the joy of giving grows. So, we don’t have to change the whole world, it’s enough to try to make the world a little better for the people around us and prove that joy, happiness, and peace exist outside the holiday season.