I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how important it is to be kind instead of simply being nice. Niceness is a sense of agreeableness. It’s being pleasant for the sake of making others feel good. Now, don’t get me wrong. Being nice is . . . nice. I doubt there are many people out there who would get upset with you for being nice. I know I wouldn’t. However, kindness is a little bit different in my book. I believe that being kind equates to acting out of a genuine concern for another individual’s well-being. Oftentimes, kindness is nice. However, sometimes it’s not so much. For example, first aid measures are not always nice–they’re often very painful–but saving someone and helping them heal is one of the kindest things you can do.
I had the chance to travel out to California last week to be with my brother who recently had a heart transplant. It was wonderful to visit with him and his family, and while I was out there, I could not help but feel such a sense of gratitude to the many, many people who, out of pure kindness, have helped them as they’ve been going through such a difficult journey. So many people–many of whom have never even met my brother or his family–have given time, offered money, prayed, and opened their hearts and homes, and it is thanks to these people that a difficult, painful, emotionally draining journey has been made bearable, even possible. And I am so incredibly grateful to each and every one of them, even though I probably don’t even know their names.
Now, it’s not always easy to be kind. It’s something I know I’m far from perfect at. But if we can start making conscious efforts every day to try to make people’s lives a little bit better–even if it’s by doing something as small as smiling at someone as you pass by them on the street–we’re on the right road. Out mindsets will start to shift, and we will start thinking of others more and genuinely caring about them. And kindness can be contagious; the ripple effects of being kind can extend far beyond what you could ever imagine.
So be kind. Even if your kindness will never be recognized, be kind anyway. It changes the world. It lightens loads, lifts moods, and saves lives. And it makes you a better, happier person in the process.