Like most things in life, kindness is something we have to learn. We have to love through kindness because love is an act that is worthwhile in itself, and we have to show it through acts of kindness.
It just requires us to be a little more attentive to what’s going on around us, to what we do and how we do it, to what we say and how we say it, and even more important, to whom we say it.
It’s actually simple to be benevolent. Things get complicated when we are caught up in the day-to-day and we overlook opportunities to be considerate with others. So the challenge is to be kind in spite of the circumstances, and even when other people don’t treat us well.
Every day, we have occasions to give our heart through details that may seem insignificant.
There is a supermarket near my house. In each checkout line, there is a little bell with a sign that says: “Please touch the bell if I’ve been kind to you.”
When I checked out, I tried to call the cashier by her name, looking her in the eyes and thanking her. And I touched the bell three times, just to give her a few seconds of joy and to get a smile. And then I heard the joyous shout of “Woo hoo!”
Afterwards, something wonderful happened. I’m the one who left the supermarket with tears of joy, as if a sudden feeling of euphoria had come sweeping over me.
And that’s because it’s a delight when you’re able to make someone happy through such small acts. A kind act, as small as it may seem, shows the desire to serve others. This is the attitude of someone who wants to live in love, with gratitude and generosity.
Kindness brings the joy of satisfying the needs of another person above our own, and it makes a meeting become different.
Being kind means serving one’s neighbor, even though this may involve sacrifice and putting ourselves second.
That’s why some kind and loving acts become heroic, because they make us so focused on loving the other person and pursuing their well-being that we don’t feel our own needs at all; we give without second thoughts.
For example, smiling when we are crying on the inside.
We have to learn to say nice things to others, to be kind to others, but also to ourselves.
If we try to have a simple heart enlightened by truth, it will be easier for us to be kind, forgive mistakes, and be understanding with others.
Start by being kind in the least expected place. How? Just choose to smile.
Being attentive to those around you will also help you to be kind, and will help them to be kind to you as well. Notice their kind behaviors and imitate them. Count how many acts of generosity you observe in one day. You’ll be surprised!
When we are aware of all those kind acts and we learn to value and appreciate them, our own desire to be kind increases. One kind action leads to others.
You and I will die, but the traces of the acts of kindness that we did throughout our lives will remain. I repeat, there is no kind act that is small or insignificant. Often, just a word or a smile is enough to bring joy to someone’s day, to give them back a sense of hope. Perhaps that smile will be like the light they need during a dark time in their life.
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This article was originally published in the Spanish edition of Aleteia and has been translated and/or adapted here for English speaking readers.