In a world where you can feel small and anonymous, never forget that you can make a difference. The little kindnesses you put out in the world inspire other such acts and so on and so on, rippling ever outward. Those ripples together make for a kinder gentler world.
In the video below, watch how the kindness ripples through a community and consider how you might add your own kindness ripples into your day.
Remember Admiral Stockdale’s opening in the 1992 vice-presidential debate? No? Here it is:
Who am I? Why am I here? Important questions we can each ask ourselves everyday. What is our purpose for being?
Sometimes we can be so caught up in the day to day, we forget the big picture: that what we do today affects future generations, that our actions have ripples that spread ever outward and touch people we will never know, that everyone here on this planet has as much purpose and reason for existing as we do.
We are both trapped in time and timeless. Now is our canvas. But the past has brought us to where we are, and the future will see our masterpiece. How will we choose to paint it?
Stumbling around in the dark can be painful, dangerous, and frustrating. We bump into stuff; we get lost; we despair. We lose our bearings and do not know how to get where we are trying to be.
But we each can help by lighting the way–with our words and actions. Consider kindness, for example, and how it can shine light on a very dark situation. In a story now going viral, a woman shared about how she was young in an elevator with her mother, who was berating her. As they left, a stranger whispered to her, “It’s not you; It’s her.” Just those five words of encouragement helped her to see beyond the horrid situation she found herself in and to buttress herself against the abuse rather than assuming, as all children do, that her mother was correct in the condemnation. She found hope:
“When life gets really dark, when she hears her (inner) mother’s voice telling that she’s sh*t, she can’t do it, or to just plain give up,” Solomon writes, “she then sees that stranger’s face as the door closes in front of her.” In fact, sometimes, Solomon says, “it’s the only thing that keeps her going.”
Think of the power you have just with your ability to be kind to someone who desperately needs it! What a gift it is to have eyes that can see suffering and to be able to help. That ripple of kindness never stops.
Have you ever noticed that someone’s words were exactly what you needed to hear at that moment? Perhaps even life-changing. When you are on the receiving end of such words, you have no doubt how important they are. Those words gave you hope, or let you see another side, or soothed your anger, or gave you purpose.
But sometimes, on the giving end of such words, we forget how important they can be. We forget to tell people how much we like them or how grateful we are for them or how we are in their corner. We rationalize–they’re just words. Who cares? It’s not life-changing.
But, in fact, as those of us who have heard such words at just the right time can attest, those words can indeed be life-changing. When they start a ripple of positivity that doesn’t begin or end with you, those words can set in motion other words and those new words just may reach someone at the right time to provide comfort or solace.
Keep shaking the world. Put kindness out there; the ripples will spread endlessly.
Think of all the people you’ve brushed up against as you went about your day today. Were their lives made better by the encounter? Even something as simple as a greeting or smile can brighten someone else’s day, and they in turn will be more encouraged to brighten someone else’s day and so on and so on and so on. Good cheer ripples out into the world endlessly. So, of course, does a dour grumpy mood. But who needs more of that?
Consider your actions today. You’re making ripples of one kind or another.
What if kindness were contagious? Spreading from person to person like the most virulent flu? How might that transform a community or, even, the world?
In this classroom, kindergarteners are spreading kindness all around:
Some people might say that kindness isn’t a characteristic as common to American society as it once was.
Nevertheless, it’s standard procedure for a group of young students in one little corner of Texas County, as Plato Elementary School kindergarten teacher Amy Hathaway leads her class in an ongoing project called the “Kindness Konnection.”
Execution of the idea is three-fold: Kids mail cheerful letters to people all over the U.S., take walks to visit elderly “friends” around the Plato community and pick up trash during their outings. The first two aspects allow the students an unusual opportunity to make peoples’ days better.
“We have heard from many people who said they were having a bad day and got a letter,” Hathaway said. “They ask, ‘why me?’ I say we just do it to be nice.”
These five-year olds are spreading ripples of kindness that are reaching out across the country and making other people’s lives better. Those ripples are causing other people to send out ripples and so on and so on and so on. Their teacher marvels at the results of her little kindness experiment:
“I don’t know how not to any more,” she said. “It’s one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever done in my life. Instead of just teaching the kids to be nice, we’ve learned what friendship really is.
“We can all make a difference in this world; even a small child has the power to influence others. Kids are the greatest thing in the world, and I love sharing them with people.”
We can all send out ripples of kindness into our world. Those ripples may well create a tsunami of kindness.