Have you ever wondered what it means to be a kind person? Everyone has a different opinion: smiling more, helping others in need, giving off a positive vibe, being there for the hard times.
But what about the minuscule day-to-day interactions? Does kindness really affect those people we'll never see again or are they in vain because most don't even want to have an extended interaction?
Last week I decided to conduct a simple investigation: Do small acts of kindness make a difference? Can it help us feel more fulfilled?
The idea came from discovering the artist arko83art. They go out of their way to spread a message of positivity to everyone with colorful art made from recycled materials. This piece, as well as many others, are hiding in uptown Charlotte for people to stumble upon.
After seeing that, I was inspired to make others smile too. I spent the next seven days complimenting cashiers at grocery stores, holding the door open for strangers going the same way, and making a conscious effort to put more good in the world.
I wrote cards to my family and friends, real snail mail, and sent it off as a surprise for their mailbox. Usually, all I get are bills and the magic of getting the mail has been ripped away for the most part. It was so rewarding to receive letters back, read the hand-written letters, and start a connection that was so simple and seemingly effortless.
I tried letting others go in front of me at a busy intersection, when there was insanely busy 5:30 traffic, instead of trying to inch my way forward in a bumper-to-bumper situation. Most times I'd get a lazy wave of thanks, but other times I'd get a blinding smile and I knew that I'd helped minimize someone's stress.
While I didn't find the general acts to be extremely rewarding at first, I slowly started to feel better about what I was putting into the community.
The people who took the time to tell me, "Hey, I just had a customer that was very rude to me. You asked me how my day was and treated me like a human being. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that!", made me want to continue the experiment into a lifestyle.
We are so busy running around that we forget the people around us are probably struggling, just like us, to make it through the day to find happiness and balance.
It's easy to get tied up in the hustle and bustle of life and slack on putting in a little extra positivity. The effort that it takes to be a better person is surprisingly minimal and will leave you feeling like you've done your part, even if not every single person appreciates it.
At the end of my experiment, I realized the answer is yes, kindness not only helps others but it makes you feel fulfilled too. That the power of positivity and kindness is undeniable.
You have the ability to change the direction of a person's day, and your own, by lending a helping hand or offering a word of encouragement. It may not always pay off, but it will fill you with a sensation of lightness that will make it all worth it.