Many people are still marveling at Lady Gaga’s half-time performance at the SuperBowl. There is no doubt she is talented, and it turns out she is also civic-minded. In addition to flexing her musical muscles, she has also joined forces with the Dalai Lama to meet with mayors of cities across the country, encouraging them to become “cities of kindness.” The resulting coalition is composed of various organizations and individuals who are working to bring more kindness to their work and to the world. And it just so happens that Random Acts of Kindness Week is almost upon us (Feb 12-18).
In the wake of a divisive election, it can be tempting to shut down or shut off. But kindness has a ripple effect, and just one smile, wave, or positive word can pay dividends far beyond the original act. This is important even and especially when someone is nasty or rude; those people may need kindness the most.
Listen. I am no Pollyanna. I routinely have one-sided arguments with people who camp out at 50mph in the left lane on the highway. I feel unreasonable, righteous anger when I get stuck behind someone with 11 items in the check-out line. Being impulsively kind to everyone and anyone is not in my DNA. But I can control my impulses when I choose to, replacing frustration with patience and self-righteousness with empathy. When I do, the payoff is immense, whether because I make a connection with another person or because I remind myself of my own capacity to appeal to the good in myself.
Maybe being kind is not the easiest route, especially nowadays. But maybe if more of us do it that will change. So, for the next week, I am going to redouble my efforts to be kind. Want to join me? Even if you weren’t born this way?
(I had to.)