EP019 The Power of Kindness
The Power of Kindness. Every human being is born with the capacity to be kindhearted. At our core, we humans need the warmth of a friendly gesture from those around us. Our lives are centered around feelings. We are not thinkers who feel. We are feeling beings who think.
Hello, welcome to my podcast. My name is Dee and I am The Introverted Advocate. The mission of my podcast is simply this – to create a kinder, more compassionate world through advocacy. I began advocating back in 2014 and I have a few stories I’d like to share. Advocating is like an adventure and it can be done from the comfort of your keyboard at home, or it could be an adventure of meeting new people, learning new skills, or finding out that the world is full of caring individuals who are ready to lend a hand or their heart when they see a need. I invite you to look around in your world and see who might need a little support and kindness. It could be one individual, it could be a group or a cause, it could be a community. Are you ready? All right, let’s get to it.
The Power of Kindness. Every human being is born with the capacity to be kindhearted.
At our core, we humans need the warmth of a friendly gesture from those around us.
Our lives are centered around feelings. We are not thinkers who feel. We are feeling beings who think.
Lessons from my childhood taught me this. And the memories are crystal clear.
By age four, I happily sat by my grandmom as she began to teach me life lessons.
What stays with me to this day is the “feeling” of those stories.
The theme of her stories? Kindness.
Yes, my grandmom offered me story after story of small acts of kindness. I soaked up every word.
As I sat by her side, she looked me squarely in the eye to give me her undivided attention.
Gee, that was an act of courtesy. My grandmom gave ME her undivided attention.
Is that rare these days?
Perhaps we, as a society, should offer our undivided attention to the person across the table, the person on the phone, and the person with whom we are interacting in face to face.
Back to my early childhood: Warmhearted generosity visited me many times.
One memory from first grade – a school festival – taught me a valuable lesson regarding kindness. At the time, I had a physical disability that was obvious from my two small wooden crutches.
You see, a childhood disease attacked my left leg within my hip socket. My left foot was supported by a custom-made sling to hold my leg off the ground. This was a long-term recovery. My teacher knew this.
When we arrived at the festival, my teacher provided each of us a handful of tickets to play games.
I used my last ticket without winning a prize.
Mrs. White, my first-grade teacher, suddenly appeared in front of me. “Let me see your ticket, please.”
I handed her my losing ticket, and she carefully looked at the front, then the back.
“Oh, look at this! You have a winning ticket! You’ve won a prize!” she said cheerfully.
Behind me stood a woman holding a huge stuffed animal. When they presented my prize, my eyes must have widened as big as the smile on my face.
(LOL) Folks, it was many years before I realized my ticket had probably not been a winning ticket.
It doesn’t take much to brighten someone’s day. Often, it takes no money, no time investment at all.
Let me share two stories where I was touched by the gratitude of folks I helped.
- During a weekend beach trip with coeds from my college dorm, a young lady stepped barefoot on a huge, thick thorn. I heard a scream and turned around to see her holding her injured foot up off the sand. With eight people standing motionless, I ran over and grabbed her foot with both hands to steady her leg. It was the largest thorn I’ve ever seen… four times the thickness of a toothpick. Remaining calm, I asked if she was ready for me to pull it out. I carefully removed the thorn, rubbed her foot and asked if she could walk. She nodded yes, and then she put on her sandals. A few days later, she saw me in the student union. She called my name and ran over to me. With a smile, she said: “I want to thank you for taking that thorn out of my foot. You didn’t hesitate to help me.” She gave me a hug and then she went on her way. I don’t know if she remembers thanking me that day, but obviously, I still do.
2. Years later, leaving the office to go to lunch, I noticed a co-worker driving ahead of me. Just then, a speeding car collided with my co-worker. Both cars careened off the road. Without hesitating, I followed them. I parked my car and walked over to my coworker’s window. She opened the car door and began to sob. We did not know each other very well, but I offered words of support as she tried to calm her nerves. We waited for the sheriff. The deputy arrived one hour later and gave me the go-ahead to return to work
The next day when I arrived at my desk, a beautiful flower arrangement greeted me. My co-worker left me a sweet card of thanks. I was floored.
The reactions of these folks caught me off-guard. In my view, I was simply offering a hand at the beach and helping a co-worker during a stressful traffic incident. Yet, their thoughtful actions of expressing their gratitude – well, that changed me.
It opened my eyes: what I perceived as a small act of kindness might be more to someone in distress or in need of friendly support.
It’s a point I want to make clear in this episode. Our reaching out might be the one thing that makes someone’s day a little better.
Let me share my experience from December seven years ago.
One warm evening, rain postponed my walk. So, I drove to the shopping mall to exercise. As I arrived in the mall parking lot, the rain became a gully-washer. The radio reported this storm was here to stay. I grabbed my umbrella and ran for the entrance.
When I opened the door to go inside, a woman balancing six beautifully-wrapped Christmas gifts was on her way out the door. Bows and ribbons and shiny paper. All too large to fit into a shopping bag to protect them from the rain.
The woman stopped suddenly. As I stood next to her, I reported it would rain for another hour.
Her shoulders slumped, and she looked back at the parking lot. She was speechless.
“May I walk you to your car? This is a big umbrella, we’ll fit under it.”
She looked at me. I was dressed in a tee shirt, shorts, and walking shoes. I shared I was there to exercise and getting wet was not a concern.
The woman finally nodded and softly uttered two words: “thank you.”
We quickly made our way to her car. She looked me in the eye, smiled awkwardly, then wished me a Merry Christmas.
What struck me was how surprised she looked. As I walked back to the store, I wondered if society was so disconnected that we no longer offer common courtesy.
It was that chance meeting that sparked courtesy and compassion to go “front and center” for me.
Kindness, on that December evening, became my permanent stance. It’s how I strive to walk in this world. I am not always in top form, but I strive to stay mindful. Being aware is the first step.
Now I’d like to recommend an extraordinary book called: The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci. He is a philosopher and psychologist.
This book overflows with stories: both simple and complicated.
Each one a testimony that the goodness of the human spirit is meant to be shared with others.
I purchased the Audible version and listened twice. Then, I purchased the paperback to study further.
Why study kindness? Because as adults, we should not rest on our laurels. I consider myself a warmhearted person, yet I have more to learn about bringing a positive energy to this world.
I’m willing to be a life-long student in order to be a better person, better advocate, and better citizen.
In closing, if we bring a “warmhearted energy” to our daily lives – it will resonate through the lives of our loved ones, our communities, our work places and our beloved planet.
Our positive energy moves like a wave of grace. Each living being passes along their own kindness to the next.
And this is what I know: our compassion comes back around to us in the most unexpected and joyful ways.
This is true in my own experiences. And I’m willing to bet it’s true in yours as well.
With warm regards, thank you for listening today.