Can Kindness Be Powerful?

On my first day of high school I caught the wrong bus. Instead of an ‘all stops’, I got on an ‘express’ bus which sailed straight past my school and into the city. I had been nervous enough about starting school without this added drama. How would I get back? Would I have to explain my stupid mistake to my new teacher in front of a whole class of people I didn’t know? I was almost in tears by the time the bus finally stopped.

Luckily for me, the bus driver was feeling particularly kind. After I explained the situation he used up his whole break time to drive me all the way back to school and cheerfully chatted to me the whole journey about how much fun school was and all the great friends I was sure to make. I got there right on the bell and was actually excited to get to class. Since that day I have encountered many, many grumpy, disgruntled bus drivers but the only one that I vividly remember is the one that went out of his way to be genuinely kind. And when I think about it, that lovely bus driver appeared on the one bus trip I needed him most.

Sometimes it’s easy to find evidence that no one cares. In the wider world as well as in our own backyard, there seems to be a collective anger, distrust, isolation and general lack of looking out for one another. People would generally agree that while being kind might be morally admirable, it doesn’t get you very far in the real world. If you asked most bosses about the most advantageous personality traits to have in order to run a company, it is highly unlikely kindness would make the list. And yet, most employees would undoubtedly agree that if they had a kinder, more appreciative boss it would make them far more productive and far more loyal. Kindness is often viewed with suspicion and confusion. Even if a kind act is deemed genuine and offered without a hidden agenda, few would see it as demonstrating strength or power. In fact, as a good friend of mine so succinctly put it: kindness is viewed as weakness.

But everyone would like more kindness in their lives. Everyone wants to feel valued, loved, acknowledged, appreciated – that they are significant somehow in the chaotic immensity that is life. And who has not experienced how the smallest act of kindness – a smile, a helping hand, a bus driver going out of his way to make sure you get where you need to go – can totally transform someone’s day? And if there were more of these little acts of kindness, transforming more people’s days each and every day, making people feel more appreciated, more significant, more positive about themselves and the world, I’d say that adds up to something pretty powerful.

So in an effort to live the beautiful adage “Be the change you want to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi) and make it more than pretty idealism, here is my plan: to perform an act of kindness each day for a whole year. I am going to come up with 31 kind acts to perform each month – I will let you know what I have so far in my next post and I would love to hear your suggestions. I will start and finish this project on my birthday, April 5th, and make my 26th year of life a Year of Kindness.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stevepmoore
    Mar 21, 2011 @ 10:10:24

    A beautiful idea. I remember when even a smile from a stranger walking down the street has lifted my spirits when I have been feeling down. I can imagine your year of kindness will create a butterfly effect of positive actions! Looking forward to hearing about the results. S

    Reply

  2. Kristin Hernandez
    Mar 22, 2011 @ 13:00:48

    Catherine, you are going to be wonderful at this! I’m looking forward to helping you come up with ideas and share in your joy at bringing joy! 🙂

    Reply

  3. Lozzi
    Mar 22, 2011 @ 13:07:05

    wow cat, very inspiring! im sure you will make so many peoples day even if many may not apreciate it! you know you would have made a small difference in the world and to your life!

    Reply

  4. Rachel
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 14:05:12

    Hi Catherine,

    My mum raised me with a life philosophy we refer to as the “glad game” which we borrowed from an old Disney movie (Pollyanna) and one of my favourite lines from the movie is “if you look for the bad in the world you will surely find it”. Well I’m more of a glass half full kinda gal so I prefer: “If you look for the good in the world you will surely find it” and I’m happy to report it hasn’t failed me yet! Evidently you found me first but after reading about your mission I can happily continue on my Saturday afternoon with further proof that there is GOOD in the world.

    Thank you for your kind, inspired words, I look forward to following your journey in the year to come.

    Big smile,
    Rachel
    http://thenakedconscience.blogspot.com

    Reply

    • happydancecat
      Apr 11, 2011 @ 20:52:08

      Rachel,

      I’m definitely with you on the Pollyanna perspective! And following on from that, one of the nicest and most inspiring things about this crazy world of blogging is connecting with people on similar journeys all over the world. The Kindness Revolution is happening, slowly but surely. 😉

      Catherine

      Reply

  5. Lexy Raine
    Apr 12, 2011 @ 05:39:03

    I absolutely LOVE your blog! A year of kindness is fantastic! I cannot wait to read all about it!

    Thank you so much for your kind words as well. I really appreciate it!!! 🙂

    Reply

  6. 1000 mitzvahs
    Apr 18, 2011 @ 14:50:48

    Thank you so much for your kind comment on my blog. I know this is going to be a magical year for you. I expect this may be the best year of your life! Happy (Belated 26th) Birthday and I look forward to keeping in touch with you.

    Linda
    http://www.1000mitzvahs.org

    Reply

  7. Trackback: Kindness Army: Now Recruiting « yearofkindness

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