When I was younger, I heard the saying, ‘Be kind to everyone. You never know what someone is going through.” This saying has become a sort of mantra for me, if you will, because I truly believe this sort of sentiment is needed in today’s world more now than ever before. Society is full of awful, terrible things, and it is far too easy to become invested in our own thoughts and problems and become desensitized to others in the process.
When we internalize our feelings and reflect them onto others, it can go one of two ways. We can either use our emotions to acknowledge those of others and engage in the act of empathizing, or we can use our emotions as reasoning to lash out at those we come into contact with.
Let’s break it down. If something like a tragedy has occurred in your life, emotions are likely at a high and are easily triggered. So when you get your morning coffee on your way to work, take a sip and learn that it’s been made with cream, not milk, rather than lashing out at the cashier, remind yourself that you’re feeling more emotional than normal. Besides, how do you know what the cashier is going through? Perhaps they too just experienced a tragedy, and perhaps your rash decision to ream them out over a coffee would have pushed them into a deeper vortex of emotion.
Being kind to others is hard, and at times it simply won’t happen. But making an effort to be kind to strangers is a definite step in the right direction, and repeated effort over time will encourage an unconscious acknowledgement to make this your own mantra.
Smile at someone. Hold the door. Let someone in when they’re trying to merge. Small acts of kindness can add up to make a tremendous difference.
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