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A Prescription for Kindness During Chaos
Last week at a local T.J. Maxx an older woman was checking out. She had a bad cough. Suddenly, the woman next in line began to berate her for coming out in public with all her germs. The first woman turned around and started yelling back that it’s a “free country” and she can go wherever she wanted. True story.
How We Act is a Choice
While each woman in this scenario has a valid view, their communication style was totally unacceptable. They were unkind to each other, to the employee behind the counter and to the other shoppers. The coronavirus is serious and of course we should all take precautions. To the other point, we are blessed to live in a free country. We are free to go where we want, live where we want, work and worship where we want – and, last time I checked, vote for whom we want. But here is the moral of this tale: we are also free to choose how we act and how we treat each other.
We live in a world of chaos. Each night we sit down to watch the media portray war, terrorism, natural disasters, financial crises, and ugly politics. Now the new virus is the lead story on every news channel. People are being whipped into a frenzy. Go to any market or box store and you are hard-pressed to find sanitizers, water or even toilet paper. It may seem absurd to talk about compassion in the face of all this. It’s not. At the end of the day, life goes on specifically because we are capable of being kind to one another.
Why Compassion Makes Us Feel Good
People can show kindness in so many ways. Mostly it’s in small ways that go unnoticed. Taking time to listen to someone, reading that bedtime story even though you’re exhausted after a long day, or making a meal for sick neighbor – these are all acts of kindness. Why do we do it? Because instinctively we know that choosing kindness, even in times of chaos, is the right thing to do. And it also makes us feel good.
If you need more convincing, here are what some studies have proven are benefits of compassion:
• Grateful people have better health, are more efficient and less depressed
• People who smile are considered more attractive
• Children who receive more love and kindness grow up healthier and more intelligent
• Elderly people who are engaged with others have a lower probability of dementia
Kindness is the Best Medicine
While embracing kindness may not cure the coronavirus, living compassionately will heal us. Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, feeling their pain, and refusing to add more suffering is the unfailing prescription for living our best lives. So, let’s all take a deep breath (without a mask!) and remember who we are and what really matters: Kindness to you is Kindness to me, and Kindness to me is Kindness to you.
Susan K. Whipple