I’m sitting on my couch drinking coffee as thoughts run through my mind. I often ponder while I drink my morning coffee. I frequently share these thoughts on social networks, but today I want to share on my blog. Like this morning, as I take a drink of coffee I see my newly manicured blue fingernails. Right now, my fingernails make me think of kindness.
I went to the salon to have my fingernails manicured yesterday. I arrived one hour after they opened and the waiting line was already super long. The long wait was fine with me; my nail artist does superior work that is worth waiting for. I added my name to the wait list, sat in the waiting area, and started reading a book. But there’s a lot to be noticed when you sit in a waiting area. The biggest thing I notice is kindness, or a lack of kindness.
I watch people come-and-go, wait, speak to each other, pay, and leave. Some are kind and some aren’t. Each of them cause a ripple. Each of them have an impact on the people they come in contact with.
Everything we do has a ripple effect. When you are kind, it helps other people be in a good mood, so they might be kind as well. The people they meet throughout the day might benefit from their kindness. Kindness can be contagious.
But unkindness can be more contagious. When someone is unkind the person on the receiving end often carries that unkindness with them throughout the day. Basically, someone was rude to you, so now you are in a bad mood, and therefore you are rude to someone else, whether it be intentional or not – you are just “in a bad mood”. Then the person you were rude to is in a bad mood, so they are unkind to someone else, and so on, and so on, and so on… It’s a spiral of rudeness and unkindness that is totally avoidable most of the time.
Everything has a ripple. I want my ripple to be kindness. Some days I have a lot of energy and kindness to offer. On those days I can throw kindness around like it is confetti. Other days I have small amounts of energy and kindness to offer. On those days I make polite conversation with grocery store cashiers and offer kind smiles to passersby. But every single thing I do has a ripple effect. I hope that ripple is kindness.
But what can we do when someone else’s unkindness ripple hits us? It’s tough. I can’t control the way other people act. But I can often control the way I react. I can also work to control the way I let it impact my life. Sure, some acts of unkindness are super tough to overcome. Some acts of unkindness will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on our lives. Some acts will mold us into different people entirely. Some might require therapy. Some might require lifestyle changes. Some might haunt us. Sometimes unkindness can be huge.
But for the sake of this post, and my morning coffee, I’m talking about the small acts. The ones that we forget about in due time. The ones that have a short shelf life. So, what do I do when I get stuck in someone else’s unkindness ripple?
First, I remember my own ripple, I don’t let the unkindness ride with me once the interaction is over. If a person in the waiting room was rude to me, I don’t let that unkindness carry on to the cashier, or to the person I pass as I walk to my car. Because my ripple will be kindness. Second, I try not to take it personally because I never really know what’s causing that person to be unkind…
You Never Know
Life is beautiful. Truly beautiful. But sometimes life can be tough. Some day’s life can be really tough. That’s one reason why kindness is so important. We should do what we can for others. We should be kind to one another. We never really know what other people are going through.
We see people post happy things online, but what we see online isn’t always a fair representation of someone’s actual life. In the past, I’ve been struggling with deep depression but I’ve posted happy photos online to keep up appearances. I’ve had depressed days where all I ate was peanut butter but I posted photos of food I’d eaten the month before on Facebook. Social networks are deceiving.
We see others smiling at work or the grocery store, so we assume their life is great. But we don’t really know. In the past, I’ve put on a smile in public when in reality I’ve been fighting a battle of self-doubt, self-hatred, and anxiety inside my mind. I needed every single act of kindness I received. Every passing smile. Every kind cashier. Every “thank you”, “please” and “excuse me”. I needed the kindness.
We never know what’s truly going on in someone else’s life. Life can be unkind. Brutally unkind. Excruciatingly tough. So, please, don’t assume that someone is happy and doing well. Just be kind. Choose kindness.
Also please remember: we should be kind to ourselves also. We deserve self-kindness. I deserve kindness. You deserve kindness. We deserve to be kind to ourselves.
Be kind to yourself. You can’t pour kindness from an empty cup. Fill yourself up with self-kindness, because you deserve it.
Practice kindness in everything you do.
Empty Coffee Cup
Speaking of empty cups, my coffee cup is empty now. Thus ending my couch and coffee thoughts for the day.
I might make a habit of these couch an coffee thoughts posts. We shall see. Talk to you later.
Sincerely, Elizabeth Banks
The Uncustomary Housewife