“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” – William Arthur Ward
I am often struck at how disconnected we have become as a society…at how little we see of what is really happening in the world beyond our immediate selves…at how little we actually interact with one another in general. When you factor in the reality that life is so fast-paced these days, that we have so many things going on in our daily lives, and that we are, for the most part, interacting less and less in person with one another, it’s not hard to understand why we, as a society, have become so disconnected from one another. But my wonder surrounding this topic is not related to the reasons for these things (that is a whole other topic we could probably debate for a very long period of time…not my intention here today), but rather on what it has done to us as humans in this society and more importantly on how just a little love and kindness can turn things around.
For many of us, when we do see someone in need, we hesitate to help because we were taught to be afraid, to not get involved, or to look away. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten that we are all human and have the same basic need for love and acceptance. Instead we have learned to be cautious or even suspicious of anyone that is not like us. Our ability to have compassion for others seems to have waned over the years. I know I catch myself in situations where I know the right thing to do is to offer help, whether it be coming across a homeless person asking for some money for food or a stranger needing assistance with something as simple as carrying something, but that voice in my head that has been so well trained over the years almost always convinces me not to help for any of a number of “good, logical sounding reasons”. It is something that weighs heavy on my heart as it continually proves to be a challenge to break away from that mindset. And I know I am not alone in this, as many of us face this same challenge.
Even when it comes to people we know (family, friends, and colleagues), we frequently ignore or don’t see when they are in need. We are often so accustomed to our family and friends being there for us that we can sometimes forget to ask if they need anything from us in return. Or we may be so wrapped up in our own daily lives that we have blinders on to what is happening around us for those with whom we are closest. Seldom do we have/take the time to sit down with our friends, family, or colleagues to talk about how each one of us is doing…how we are each feeling…what each of us might need. It’s just not something many of us do.
I don’t think any of this is something that is intentionally done on most people’s accounts though…I truly think we have become products of our environment, our society, and our upbringing. Regardless of the how or why though, the fact is we have lost touch with so much of the human side of interacting with one another. We have forgotten the power and importance of expressing love and kindness toward one another…both those we know and those we do not. Simple things like a smile, a hello, or a random act of kindness can turn someone around relatively quickly. Whether someone is mad at the world, frustrated, sad, hurting, in need, etc., it can all melt away, even if only for short while, when a smile or a general sense of kindness is directed toward them. And it isn’t unusual to even see them sit/stand a little taller as a result of your kind interaction with them. As humans, we want and need to feel loved, seen, and cared for.
Your kindness can have a profound impact on others, even a complete stranger. Challenge yourself to reconnect with the people you see each day, whether you know them or not. Break those old habits and mindsets. Do what your heart and soul are telling you is the right thing to do – care about and take care of others. This is a challenge I give myself each day and while it is not easy and it certainly takes time, I know it is a worthwhile endeavor. So smile and share a little kindness with the people you see today – you never know the incredible impact that may have on a person by adding just a little more love to the world.