Monday, August 22, 2011

Spreading Kindness

Kindness is always a good idea. Kindness without expecting anything in return is an even better idea. Kindness that spreads from one person to another is an even better idea. Kindness that is genuine is one of the most important riches we can share with one another.

Spreading kindness is not a new idea. The movie Pay It Forward was built around the premise of spreading kindness to create a better world. Several years ago, Oprah had a show about spreading kindness. I believe the show topic was "Random Acts of Kindness" and the idea was to combat "Random Acts of Violence" with positives in an attempt to change the world one "Random Act of Kindness" at a time. At least that's how I remember it.

Books have been written about the idea of spreading kindness. Some promise if you spread kindness without expecting anything in return, good things will come your way. I happen to believe this.

I also believe that anonymous acts of kindness are much better than recognition-seeking acts of kindness. As a general rule, if you feel the need to tell others you've performed a random act of kindness, then your motivation is about you, not about being kind to someone else.

Recently, I pulled up to the Starbucks window to pay for my latte and scone only to learn the strangers in the car in front of me had already paid my bill because, as the barrista said "someone had done the same for them and they wanted to do it for someone else." I was incredibly touched by this simple act of kindness. I know nothing about these people. I don't know what religion they practice if any, what color their skin is, what job they hold, how much money they earn, what their political beliefs are, whether they're gay or straight, or anything else about them. But, none of that matters. It just doesn't. They were kind. That's all that matters.

Pay it Forward, the "Random Acts of Kindness" episode of the Oprah show, and recently my own experience receiving a "random act of kindness" have all influenced me to perform my own random acts of kindness. I never even think about getting anything in return or telling anyone else I've performed them, but what I've discovered is that when one lives with an attitude of giving rather than taking, one receives. Of course, one must also be open to accepting kindness when it comes one's way.

I don't believe kindness is the work of any one religion, faith, or belief. I can't believe that. The evidence doesn't support it. Some of the kindest and least self-aggrandizing people I know are atheist or agnostic. I also know many very kind people who are Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, and so on.

I applaud Plant A Simple Seed for wanting to spread kindness and for coming up with a way to do it that actively engages people in the process. The blog encourages those wishing to participate to contact the blog owner to receive cards to leave when they plant a seed. The idea being that the card receiver should then do something kind for another person again leaving the card and so on and so on. The person receiving the kindness is also asked to go on the blog and leave a comment about the kindness they received. When I read it, it struck me how many people were reporting the seed they planted rather than a kindness received. Even though most of the posts were anonymous, I wondered if they were seeking recognition for their kindness... I didn't think that was how it was supposed to work.

It's just, and I have to say this, being kind isn't the Christian thing to do, it's the human thing to do. Treating one another with kindness transcends any religious belief and is taught by all religions and even by nonreligious people.

I encourage you to check out Plant a Simple Seed for yourself and decide whether or not you wish to participate.

Whether or not you opt to get the cards from Plant a Simple Seed, I encourage you to seek out opportunities in your life to be kind to others.

Kindness is its own reward!!

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