Make Kindness a Habit

During a recent visit to a discount store to buy some batteries, I stopped to hold the door open for a young mother and her 4 year-old daughter. Right behind them was a businessman carrying a large box. I held the door for him, too. Each said a polite “thank you” as they went through.

As I entered the store I noticed the mother and daughter still standing near the door. The daughter asked the mother why I had held the door open.

“He is a nice man,” replied the mom.

The daughter looked around, stared at the door, and replied “Oh.”.

A few minutes later I headed back toward the door with my batteries. Standing next to the door was the little girl, with her mother looking a little impatient, standing to the side. I watched as time after time the little girl held the door open for people entering and exiting the store. Each time, everyone said “thank you” with a smile.

When I approached the door, the little girl looked especially thrilled. She ceremoniously opened the door for me, smiled a a toothless grin and said “I’m nice, too!!” I smiled back and said “it’s fun to be nice, isn’t it?”. She grinned again and nodded.

On the drive home, I began thinking about what I’d just witnessed and thought about kindness. I was lucky to be raised in a home where kindness was a habit. It wasn’t expected. It wasn’t rewarded. It was just there.

The root of kindness is consideration for others. It means turning focus away from yourself, if just for a moment, to think about how you can help others, usually with a small effort. That small effort can have a big impact.

I remember many times when someone riding in the car with me would question “why did you stop to let them into traffic?” or “why did you slow down and let them merge?”  It took just moments and it certainly made other people think about kindness. For me, those simple acts of kindness were automatic. Why would someone NOT stop? For each of those drivers, it set an example. Maybe they would pay it forward, just like the little girl in the store.

Kindness is an easy way to fill your heart with the joy of helping others, and a great way to demonstrate love and caring. Of course, being kind goes well beyond holding doors. It may be a sincere compliment, remembering a birthday, even a smile.

So let’s make kindness and consideration a habit.  Be kind to others. It takes little effort. Be kind to yourself, too, and think about your own wellness. Maybe a massage?