A little kindness goes a long way.
"Always be a little kinder than necessary." JM Barrie
As 2020 draws to a close, we could all use a little extra kindness in our lives. Kindness to ourselves, kindness to others, kindness to the world around us. Here at Pit Liquor, we're committed to showing kindness to our world through our sustainability program, and through our top-notch customer relations. Did you know that National Kindness Week is November 9-13? Let's kick off the celebration with a few stories about kindness, both big and small.
When I think about small acts of kindness I often think of the classic "pay for the person behind you" idea where you pay for your own food or groceries as well as the person in line behind you. I'll be honest, I was a skeptic about this idea for many years. I always worried I would be the one using my last $5 to cover a millionaire's coffee order. Of course, good judgement is always wise, but let me tell you how much of a difference this can make.
One day not very long ago, I was having the absolute worst week. Everything that could possibly go wrong did. I was upset with my partner, our house was a mess, our money wasn't stretching as far as it should. Our children were being generally terrible, I was in a particularly bad disagreement with a family member, and I was feeling really lonely. While I was out running errands, I stopped by my favorite local coffee shop for a much-needed caffeine boost. As I stood in line, all I could think about was the weight of bad things I was carrying in my heart. It took everything within me not to cry right there at the coffee counter. I managed a small smile and half-hearted "How are you?" to the barista, who joyfully responded with the news that someone had paid for my drink. I was flabbergasted. I could have afforded to pay for the drink myself, but the fact that someone else cared enough about me to cover the cost meant the world to me. I'm not exaggerating when I say that small act completely changed my day. I suddenly realized there was a big wide world out there beyond my own struggles. Everything was going to be ok.
Kindness Through the Mail
I imagine almost every person in the world, including you, is feeling the pain of being separated from loved ones this year. My best friend lives several states away, and it has felt particularly difficult lately to live far apart. We spend time on the phone or using video-message apps, but it just doesn't feel the same as a hug or in-person conversation. It probably doesn't help that we have five children between us, so our time is often full-to-bursting with online school and parenting and potty-training.
My best friend holds that title for a variety of very spectacular reasons, but one of her extra-amazing qualities is her talent of sending thoughtful notes and gifts through the mail. Every month or two, she'll send me a handwritten note or small gift: a box of chocolates, stickers for my kids, a little something she picked up because she was thinking about me. None of these have been expensive or elaborate, but her kindness on an ordinary Tuesday often transforms my whole week.
In our digital age, I have forgotten the power of a handwritten note. The notes my friend sends always make a point to tell me something specific that she loves or appreciates about me, and to speak kindness and encouragement to my heart in some way. Now that we've been in quarantine for over six months, I have a whole stack of notes in her loopy handwriting that I can look through when I'm feeling especially discouraged or lonely. This small, seemingly insignificant kindness on her part has bolstered me through the one of worst years ever. Imagine if we all began writing notes to those we love, near and far.
Have you ever noticed how hard things seem to hit all at the same time? You lose your job and break up with your partner in the space of a few weeks. You lose multiple people who matter deeply to you in one season. It sometimes feels like all the hard parts of life gather together into one giant rain cloud that unexpectedly lets loose in a life-storm of difficulty. I've certainly experienced my share of painful seasons. A few years ago my husband and I battled infertility and then a miscarriage while he was working extremely long and stressful hours at work. We lost two grandparents in the space of six weeks while I was in my third trimester with one of our daughters. Another time my then-4 year old had her tonsils out the same day my youngest was almost hospitalized with bronchitis. (I have a lot of children so it seems my struggles regularly coincide with something child or pregnancy related. I now refer to some memories as "that year when I was pregnant with somebody." Clearly, I live in a zoo of small humans.)
Here is what I have found to be true about these difficult times: When your life feels like it is literally falling apart at the seams, people show up. It might not be the people you thought it would be, but there is always someone who brings kindness right when you need it most. When my husband and I lost his grandparents, his boss sent me flowers and a few friends made us dinner. When I miscarried while my husband was out of town, a friend drove me to the hospital. Another friend simply sat on my couch with me while I cried. Last year when I had two very sick children, a friend brought milkshakes and stayed with one child while I took the other to the doctor. Even in the darkest seasons, there are people in your life who truly care about you, and who will cross oceans, literally or metaphorically, to offer kindness in your times of greatest need.
I hope each of these stories inspires you to spread kindness to those around you in small and big ways. Happy World Kindness Week!
Melanie lives near Raleigh, NC with her husband and three kids. She loves hot coffee, good books, and deep conversations. Connect with her on Instagram via @intentional_motherhood