Let’s get one thing straight. Being kind does not make you weak. Being charitable does not make you useless. Having faith does not make you dumb.
I cannot count the amount of times my kindness has been taken for a weakness, or for lack of intelligence. I’m writing this post to declare the obvious: kindness is equivalent to strength.
Being kind is something that has been drilled into me since childhood. My parents always taught me never to fight fire with fire, and to remember that two wrongs don’t make a right. Of course, once I entered secondary school all of that went out the window and I discovered revenge which I thought was the best thing ever.
Anything from removing a friend from my BBM status to deleting profile pictures felt like I was serving the medicine they deserved. However, mentally and emotionally, I never felt like a better person because I had fought back. I never felt like the bigger person because I took action to ruin someone else’s day, even though they had ruined mine. Looks like my parents were right.
Now that I’m a little older, when the petty issues arise, my childhood training starts to kick in and I remember that acting with grace and being kind doesn’t hurt anyone. In fact, it usually defuses the situation which takes a lot more skill than just yelling or fighting back.
Storytime: In the office I used to work in, a girl about my age, we’ll call her Jane, heard a rumour about herself, and was told I was the person who started it. Due to whispers, she gathered that I was the person behind the vicious lies that were being spread around the entire company. And they weren’t harmless rumours either. We’re talking job-threatening stuff.
As you can imagine, she was pretty angry with me and confronted me in front of the entire floor of workers. I’m a pretty shy person, I hate attention on me, and I also really don’t like confrontation. Still, I was called some pretty harsh names in front of two hundred people, and completely blown away.
Rather than kick off, shout back, come up with my own names or get physical, I just apologised. I apologised for the way Jane felt, the rumours that were spread, but assured her I wasn’t the one who spread them. At this point, Jane was still yelling at me and quickly turning red with anger, but I stayed calm, and continued to apologise and assure – even flashing a smile.
A couple of weeks later, Jane found out I wasn’t the person who started the rumours, I was in fact the only person who refused to help spread the rumours. Again in front of the entire office, Jane called out my name and apologised for her previous outrage.
This was one of those angel/devil moments on each shoulder. My options were: accept her apology with a smile and move on, or refuse her apology and report her behaviour, getting revenge. My choice?
I accepted her apology and went back to work. The rest of my time there, I treated her exactly the same as I did before and she almost seemed baffled by it. Some in the office saw my reaction as cowardly, as if I was too scared to fight. In all honestly, I’m too lazy to fight anyone.
Kindness doesn’t always seem like the easiest route to go down. The world is full of injustices and if something doesn’t go our way, or we are wrongly accused, all we want to do is fight for what’s right. And in many cases, we should tactfully argue for what we believe is right. But in a lot of other scenarios, the best option is the act with kindness or even walk away.
That’s something that takes an enormous amount of strength, will and self-control. Three qualities that are to be praised.
With the online world, it’s so incredibly easy to type a few nasty words, click “post” and never look back. Seeing hateful comments on YouTube videos, blog posts and on social media is exhausting. There will always be times when you have to speak up, say your peace and whatever, but using a positive tone would help each point to be well received.
If someone is yelling at me, there’s a 10% chance I want to even listen. However, if I have hurt someone’s feelings, and they approach me (despite being upset) and act gracefully, I feel the urge to correct the situation as soon as possible.
Negativity starts to build up on the timeline from time to time, as each scandal passes, and rather than get involved and start acting maliciously, I just log off.
The one thing about kindness, is that it can always be offered. You don’t have to wait for someone to be nice to you just to be nice back. Take the initiative, be the first. There’s a wonderful article with 103 Acts of Kindness to inspire us all, and they’re pretty easy to complete. It’s one of those things that become natural the more you do it. It’s instinctive.
I used to be really uncomfortable offering people compliments. I have no idea why, it’s just something I would feel awkward doing. Nowadays, I throw compliments around without even thinking. If I like something, I just say it out loud and I genuinely can’t help it. It could be a compliment regarding the most random things, but I think it, so I say it.
Drama arises in friendship groups all the time, and it’s really easy to get sucked into the nonsense, but I’ve found that jumping on the bandwagon doesn’t help anyone and doesn’t make you feel any better. Rather, treating each person with kindness, remembering that we’re all imperfect and forcing a smile instead of fists is the way forward.
Hurray for kindness!