The new year is soon upon us and everyone wants to start 2023 with a clean slate with no mistakes in it. As we usher out the old and welcome in the new, what plans, goals and promises have you made for this fresh start? Will your list of hopes and wishes be successfully accomplished or will many of your desires expire before the end of January? Well, let’s guarantee success by doing something easy and simple while at the same time, bringing happiness to all involved. Let’s make kindness to others and just as importantly, to ourselves, our prime objective. Each day do or say something nice to someone, it can be family, friends, complete strangers or even to your spouse. It takes no effort, no planning, no money and the results will have a lasting and pleasing impact on both you and the recipient. A sincere compliment, a well-deserved pat on the back, an encouraging word, a simple thank you or a smile and a friendly greeting, can often make someone’s day. Let me tell you about an experience I had that really brought the importance of this concept home to me.
In the grocery store where I shop, there is a cashier who is/was just plain miserable and unhappy. I think she probably eats razor blades for breakfast. She was so unpleasant that in the past, I would avoid her and wait in a longer line just so I wouldn’t have to deal with her nasty manner. One day I was not so lucky as she was the only cashier working. I braced myself for this encounter. I watched as she was extremely rude to the timid customer ahead of me. Then it was my turn. “Do You Need Bags?” she yelled at me in a very bitchy tone. The hairs on the back of my neck started to bristle but before I uttered a sharp retort, a thought jumped into my head. Maybe this poor soul had issues at home or major problems I knew nothing about. So, flashing my brightest smile and in the most cheerful voice I could muster, I answered, “No thank you. How are you today?” She was taken back a little by my response but said nothing. As I left, I smiled and wished her a nice day. She muttered some sort of reply but I did notice as I exited the store that the customer behind me was being treated in an improved and more respectful manner.
If I had uttered the quick response that had been on the tip of my tongue, there would have been a totally different outcome to this situation. The cashier would still be in a miserable mood, the next customer would have been subjected to her mean behaviour and I would have been ticked off for a couple of hours thinking about the way I had been treated. But by being friendly towards her, this did not happen. I no longer avoid this cashier. She is still a little rough around the edges but I usually manage to get a smile or a friendly comment from her and sometimes even both. She has changed her behaviour, at least towards me. The power of a smile and a kind word cannot be underestimated.
Many of us are great givers but we are not so good at handling being on the receiving end of praise or kind gestures. I realized that in the past, I was not always a good receiver of compliments whether it was about my work, my appearance or whatever. For example, if someone gave me a compliment about an item of clothing, I would immediately downplay the comment by saying, “Oh, I have had this coat forever.” The correct response would have been, “Thank you,” accompanied by a smile. Without realizing it, I was denying myself the pleasure of enjoying this compliment plus by dismissing this statement, I was taking away any joy that the giver may have felt. I’m happy to say that I have now changed my behaviour and accept these remarks as an appreciative receiver.
So here is the mission for 2023. Be nice to everyone, including those individuals who annoy you to no end. Disarm grumpy people with your smile and kill their bad moods with kindness. Uplift those who need an encouraging word. Be friendly to those who need a friend. Accept compliments graciously. Imagine the changes we would see in people, if this philosophy became a part of our daily routine. Let’s make 2023, The Year of Kindness.