The Gift of Kindness
“We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that.” Ellen DeGeneres
As we enter the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of activities, the stress of obligations and the inevitable time crunch of squeezing in holiday shopping and get-togethers on top of an already full schedule. It’s also easy to forget to be kind.
While we as a community in southern California have had a very rough week, perhaps a perfect excuse to forget about others, there have been countless examples of just the opposite. People helping neighbors, people rescuing animals, people opening their homes to fire-evacuated strangers. Local government officials, police staff and fire fighters, some who have lost their own homes, are continuing to serve their communities under brutal conditions. The flood of support and honoring for those fallen in the mass shooting last week was both heartbreaking and confirmation that we’re not as divided as it may appear on the surface.
I saw this morning that a small restaurant in Agoura started serving free breakfasts this weekend to all of the #firefighters. For many, it was the first hot meal they’ve had in days. The restaurant quickly ran out of food and weren’t sure how they were going to pay for more when someone donated $25,000 so they could keep going. They’ve served over 1,000 first responders in the last two days alone.
Another restaurant opened their doors yesterday to provide hot meals for free to the first responders. There are American flags flapping in the wind on overpasses and handwritten posters of “Thank you!” Texts are flying with people asking others if they’re okay. A new fire just erupted north of me and someone has already offered their home to me in case the fire grows closer. And that person was evacuated from their own home just two days ago!
I had breakfast with someone who saw a neighbor trying to put out a hotspot on a hill behind their homes. She immediately ran up to help him. A woman in #Malibu has rescued 36 lost and scared dogs and is caring for them until their owners can be found.
It has been a tough week, full of angst, sadness, anger, frustration and fear. But it has also been a miraculous week, providing us that rare opportunity to see humankind at its best. The foundation of we humans being our best is rooted in kindness.
Perhaps this an opportunity to reset before the full force of the holidays arrives. The best gift we can give ourselves and others is kindness.
Reflect on how kind you are to yourself.
Do you put your needs last? Do you refrain from asking for help when you need it? If you could be more kind to yourself, take a small step in that direction. Maybe something as simple as taking a little break, getting a little more sleep or doing something you enjoy. It’s important to realize that you can only be of true and full service to others when you are well yourself.
Reflect on how kind you are to others.
Are you able to #empathize with someone you disagree with? Are you judgmental? Do you think about the greater good – all of the people you don’t know personally who might benefit from a little kindness? Again, if you have room for growth here, start small. Perform a random act of kindness for a stranger. Try saying or doing something kind toward someone you may not particularly like. Volunteer somewhere during the holidays. Each exercise strengthens your own empathy and kindness levels.
For all of the rhetoric about how divided we are, perhaps we’re not when it really comes down to it. When we forget our petty differences and focus on what’s important, life and basic needs, our differences evaporate. Isn’t that an inspiration for everyone as the holidays approach?
I’d love to hear how you practice #kindness. Let me know so you can inspire others!