Being Kind Counts
Recently I signed up for a blogging challenge in which I took a pledge to be a Kindness Captain. Sounds like a fancy title, right? Well, we all have the ability to be Kindness Captains. What does it entail? It's easy. Be kind. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to animals. Just be kind. During this challenge, several bloggers were tasked to come up with a kind (do good) deed. There are endless ways we can all be kinder, even if it means that you start with yourself.
My first step as Kindness Captain is simple - have more human interaction. Let me ask you some questions. When was the last time you struck up a conversation with the stranger in line behind you? When was the last time you smiled or said "hi" to a stranger? Or when was the last time you actually looked someone in the eye?
These days it's easy to be removed from any real human contact. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs. They are all ways we fool ourselves into thinking that we are actually connecting with people. Sure, it's very helpful to stay in contact with friends and family that live far away, but how has the easy act of grabbing your phone to text someone affected how you operate from day to day?
Speaking for myself, I started to notice that I was constantly looking at my phone. Checking facebook or instagram. Texting friends. I was missing out on the people that were right next to me, even if they were strangers. I was missing my opportunity to have a human interaction.
What happens when you make eye contact?
After I put the phone away, I began to make a point of making eye contact with strangers. Specifically, I started making eye contact and smiling at individuals I'd passed by every day, without the slightest of thought. Who are these individuals? They are standing on the corner asking for your help. They are walking the streets looking for their next place to sleep. They are in parks. They are on sidewalks. They are people just like us. People on a journey.
Over the years, I became jaded. When I was in high school, I remember giving someone that was asking for money, some food and they rejected it. A few years later, I gave someone change for gas and I saw them go buy cigarettes. This isn't the norm but it was what I started to think. So I eventually stopped looking at anyone asking for change or help, to avoid the awkward turn down.
Now that I work in social service, I've started to see things differently. Yes, some individuals will not use the help you offer. Some will not use the money for what they say. But all of them could use a little kindness, even if it's just a smile and eye contact. We all want to be seen. Why not look at them? Why not smile at them? And if possible, say "hi".
You never know where one small step will take you
A step forward is a step in the right direction. What if your smile changed someones mood? What if your "hi" made someone feel seen and worthy? What would be the harm? We have unlimited smiles available to us. They are free and guess what?! A smile at a stranger may even change your mood.
I challenge you!
Make an effort to have more human interaction. If it's too hard at first, just start with one day a week. Let's bring back the lost art of human interaction. To think, it only starts with a little eye contact and a smile. Why not start today?
Share your story of how you reconnected with the lost art of human interaction. Leave a comment below, or share on twitter (yes, I see the irony) with hashtags #BeingKindCounts and #TeamHumankind.