This is Day 5 of the 31 Day Online Writing Challenge. To start at the beginning (a very good place to start), click here.
Today is “Do Something Nice Day” and, in retrospect, I guess I should have shared this earlier to give everyone plenty of time to do lots of nice things. Hopefully, you don’t need a reason to be nice. But if you were just a straight-up-you-know-what today, there’s still a few hours left to make up for it. 😉
Plato once said (or was it John Watson? Or Philo of Alexandria?), “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It’s such a simple sentiment, but I remember being struck profoundly the first time I read it several years ago. As I thought about how to expand on today’s “holiday”, I considered this quote and the importance of DOING nice things vs BEING a nice person.
For my 30th birthday a few years ago (has it been two already?!), I shared a post about doing 30 random acts of kindess. I certainly wasn’t the first one to celebrate a birthday this way, and I know I won’t be the last. Just Google “birthday” and “random acts” and you’ll get hundreds of search results of people who have done the very same thing. It was fun. And it was relatively easy.
You know what’s not easy? Responding with kindness to the person who you know has just stabbed you in the back. It’s not always easy to smile and be gracious to the person who is rolling their eyes or shooting you dirty looks. Sometimes it’s hard to be nice to the rude bank teller or the passive-aggressive colleague or the driver who cuts you off.
I don’t know why some people act they way they do. (Heck, sometimes I’m not sure why I act the way I do.) But that’s the thing. I don’t know.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Who’s to say what’s going on behind the scenes in anybody’s life? Financial struggles, insecurities, family dysfunction, broken relationships… everybody has their battle. No one is living in a world of cotton candy and unicorns. (Except maybe Taylor Swift.)
Personally, for me it’s easy to be the person who does the nice things. And they are important. I’ve been on the receiving end of acts of kindness and nothing can brighten a day quicker than a surprise card in the mail or the car ahead paying for lunch. We should all strive to do those little acts of love every day, not just on October 5th or for birthday celebrations.
My struggle is responding with kindness to the people who I feel just don’t deserve it. Note the word feel. By adding my own feelings into the equation, I’m basically writing off theirs and making it all about me. If I could just remember to leave out my own prejudices or interpretations of the situation, I may realize it might not be about me at all and that I have no idea what battles they are fighting. I know I hope for that grace from others when I say or do things in anger I don’t mean. I should extend the same.
The day only has a few hours left, but I encourage you to still find some way to do something nice. Send a text to a friend you haven’t spoken with in awhile or an encouraging email to somebody who may be having a hard time. Those little acts of kindness can make a big difference in somebody’s day.
But more importantly, as we go throughout our week, let’s try to remember to not only do nice things but to also be nice people, responding with kindness and remembering we all need a little grace.
Have a nice night and I’ll see you tomorrow!