A lot of good advice has been broadcast these days, including frequent reminders about kindness. Most everyone feels some responsibility to be a little kinder, which is kind of ironic because since we’re having less contact with each other, how can this happen?
Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel in order to be tough … love thy neighbor as thyself is still the force that animates our faith — a faith that we are determined shall live and conquer in a world poisoned by hatred.”
Kindness has gained significance at many American medical universities the last few years because science shows that delivering care with kindness leads to faster healing, reduced pain, increased immune function, lowered blood pressure, and decreased anxiety. At Stanford, for example, the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education offers CEUs for training health care professionals in being kind. Further research confirms that those who extend kindness also experience positive benefits, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
In hospital settings, the training radiates when it’s shared, both professionally and personally. One hospital stocks groceries for the convenience of their employees, and many providers reach out to virtually include loved ones in patients’ care.
On the other hand, a lack of empathy is at an all-time high and likely contributed to a report that in 2020, we had an almost 30% increase in medical drug overdoses. When I read this, I wished these folks had experienced more kindness; it could have made a difference.
I remembered that Jesus showed us kindness when we did nothing to deserve it. Proverbs 3:3-4 says, “Do not let kindness and truth leave you … you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
“Jesus showed us kindness when we did nothing to deserve it.”
Are we really seeing (even on a limited basis or virtually) and hearing other people enough to feel compassion and respond kindly to them? If so, aim to:
- Listen to someone in need with patience.
- Reach out to help a stranger who’s struggling with packages, needs directions, or is new to church or a group.
- Replace feelings of annoyance with understanding and a willingness to assist the person. And more.
Kindness is modeled for us every day. I’m still inspired by the memory of asking a server in a restaurant in Italy if there might be a cushion for the hard chairs — and that she went home to bring one to me.
Then, there’s the popular practice of leaving random messages of kindness and hope on rocks to be found and claimed. Have you left or found any? This is a happy teaching project for youngsters and parents to do together.
I had an interesting rock experience in Arizona a few years ago. My husband and I were hiking by a river and, by chance, saw a beautiful cairn. I was touched that an anonymous person made this humble offering and lingered to appreciate the random shapes and colors of earthly sculpture. When I took this photo, I thought of that person who showed that “kindness rocks.”
Years later, I tried a new alphabet style when everything and everybody who was cool “rocked,” so why not kindness? When I came to lettering the “o” in “rocks,” the memory of the kindness rocks photo made a comeback. Ah, yes! Draw a real rock, like I saw at the top of the cairn for the “o,” and draw all the others too. Part of this piece is the banner at the top of the article.
“There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It really matters very little whether they are behind the wheel of a truck or running a business or bringing up a family. They teach the truth by living it.” — James A. Garfield
We’re all changed by the last year or so, and we can be better going forward. Let your words and actions show that kindness rocks. Believe that in this small way, you and I can change the world.
Sometimes these stories make the news to brighten everyone’s day. Check out the folks at the Good News Network.
Phawnda Moore is a Northern California artist and award-winning author of Lettering from A to Z: 12 Styles & Awesome Projects for a Creative Life. In living a creative life, she shares spiritual insights from traveling, gardening and cooking. Find her on Facebook at Calligraphy & Design by Phawnda and on Instagram at phawnda.moore.