“No act of kindness is too small. The gift of kindness may start as a small ripple that over time can turn into a tidal wave affecting the lives of many.” (Kevin Heath)
I was grumpy Monday. I was grumpy and depressed—deeply discouraged by the state of the world, the direction my country is taking, and the incivilities that have become so frequent and commonplace. I was feeling helpless to make any difference toward positive change and also overwhelmed by other things that are happening in my life. It wasn’t a great day.
In the mid-afternoon mail, I received a small envelope from my book publicist’s office. I had requested a supply of her business cards to include when I mailed information out to possible reviewers or others expressing interest in seeing advance copies of A Year of Living Kindly. Ben, the individual who mailed the cards to me, took the time to dash off a short message on a post-it, saying, “Donna, I just wanted to let you know that your book was incredible and inspiring! Thank you for that. ~Ben”
That tiny note changed my day. Suddenly, I felt hopeful. I felt connection. I was touched by Ben’s words. And I was also aware that he could just as easily have mailed me the cards without taking the time to include a note. I would never have known the difference.
One of my favorite quotes about kindness is by Julian Bowers Brown: “Kindness. Easy to do. Easy not to do. Choose the latter, no one will notice. Choose the former and lives may change.” How simple and yet how profound that statement is!
How often do we have an impulse to extend a kindness—a word, a deed, a compliment, a brief note of appreciation—and then let it fall away? We think it’s too small, it doesn’t matter, I don’t have time…. The impulse dies unexpressed and we never know what difference we might have made in another person’s life.
I’m keeping Ben’s note as a reminder—not just that he liked my book (which is wonderful and thrilling!), but that what may seem to me to be a small or insignificant act—so small that it wouldn’t be missed—might turn out to be just what the recipient needs in that moment.
I resolve to express more kindnesses and try to withhold judgment about their worthiness. How about you? Is there a yellow sticky note (or equivalent gesture) you could give someone today? Don’t put it off. Do it right now. You just might make their day . . . and that . . . could change the world.
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.” (Mother Teresa)