A little more than a year ago, I looked around the world and saw only aggression, anger, and despair. I was in the early days of healing from spine surgery. I was awake less than six hours a day, and when I was awake, I was sick to my stomach. While I was desperately ill, the world had fallen into rage.
One day, I was in the supermarket. I was in my back brace and carrying a cane. I watched an elderly African-American woman try to check out. She went from line to line where she was pushed out of the way. The manager saw her struggle and opened a register to help her. Rather than let the jerks push her out, I followed her like a wall. She was shaking head to toe in fear of these "busy" people. I stood behind her like a log jam. The impatient and rude made comments, sighed angrily, but they were simply unable to get anywhere near her. She gave me a soft smile and a nod when she finished her transaction. I let the tide flow.
As far as I could tell, the zero-sum game and its twin, righteous rage, seemed to have won the day.
I wasn't able to march. I wasn't awake long enough to do much of anything, really.
I noticed that it was Random Act of Kindness Week. I realized what I could do.
I could post about Kindness on social media every day.
Because I was so ill it took a while to set everything up. By March 2017, I was posting daily to Instagram, Google +, Twitter, LinkedIn, and, of course, Facebook. I set up a new Everyday Kindness website to hold all of the posts. There's even an email list for people who'd like to get a Kindness post in their email every day.
Kindness is something I've thought about for a long time. In 2006, I ran Simply Kind Tuesdays on this blog. Everyday Kindness was a website about kindness. Kindness is something that's interesting to think about, but hard to keep up. After a few years, I let it all lag.
It was waiting for me to pick up again in February 2017.
Every Sunday for the last year, I've created daily posts and scheduled them through programs.
The idea was to remind people to be kind. Some of the posts are plain dumb. Many of the posts are beautiful. A few of them are profound. My hope was that somewhere among all of the kind insanity, individuals would find a way to be kind. In the moment-to-moment living of life, these posts might just help.
I believe that we all want to be kind. In fact, often we believe we are being kind -- even when we're not.
Here's what I've learned from a year of posting about Kindness every single day:
- The beautiful posts are the most popular. A simple "Be Kind" on a lovely post is much more popular than complicated quotes or ideas. People simply do not have enough beauty in their lives. These posts seemed to break through in ways other posts don't.
- There aren't that many quotes about kindness, and mostly they are dumb. Kindness is love in action. There simply aren't great quotes about love in action, likely because of the action part. Kindness is doing not talking.
- If you post of about kindness, you get to see a lot more kindness in your timeline. When you talk about what's important to you, you see reflected back to you what's important to you. While this may be a law of metaphysics, it is certainly how social media timelines work.
- Kindness is the work of warriors. Kindness is hard. It's much easier to be angry, rage-filled, or stupid. It takes concerted effort to be kind. A lot of concerted effort, in fact. And...
- Kindness disarms even the biggest bully and most Internet trolls. I know that it's hard to believe. I know that it's much easier to mock, belittle, or engage a troll. And sure, people are stupid. Many of them are deserving of your rage. But if you really want to mess with the trolls in your life, be kind to them. Kindness is disarming. You'll be surprised.
- The research into Kindness is incredible. Perpetrating kind acts decreases anxiety. Kind acts increase one's sense of well-being. Check out the Kind Lab for great articles about how your life changes when you are kind.
Kindness is hard wired into human beings.
Cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork are among the fundamental reasons that human beings have survived to colonize the globe.
This should give us hope.
This crazy, zero-sum, rage fueled time will pass.
We can help it pass through our every day acts of kindness.