Kindness is something that so many of us take for granted. If we don’t see a big gesture, we often forget to notice an act of kindness. It’s all about the little things.
Sure, there are reality programs like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and You Deserve It which, let’s be honest, will make even the most stone-cold heart melt. This is precisely why I don’t watch these shows. I turn into a sniffling, sobbing, blubbering mess. Every. Single. Time.
Now, these are the utmost examples. Others are more subtle.
There is a turning point in the film Groundhog Day, where Phil decides that as he relives February 2nd over and over, he can make changes to better the lives of the Punxsutawney townsfolk. He tries to save the life of an elderly homeless man by treating him to a warm meal and performing CPR, changes the tire of a carload of little old ladies, and performs the Heimlich on the mayor who chokes on his meal.
And then those damn ASPCA and Humane Society commercials come on showing images of abused and neglected animals. My heart breaks every time I see the look of pain in these animals’ eyes. How could anyone be so cruel to a defenseless animal? And how could anyone not want to help every last one of them?
I guess I should get to a personal anecdote of my own.
During my very first semester in college, I found out that my long-distance boyfriend—at least, I thought he was my boyfriend—had slept with someone else. Now, I was 18 and he was 26. It was my first big love (I lost the V-card) and I was completely and utterly devastated. For days after I found out, I existed in a zombie-like stupor. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. And yet, I still had assignments I had to complete. After struggling through an essay for my history class, I emerged from my stuffy dorm room, unwashed and unbrushed, to run down campus so that I could get my paper turned in on time.
After I had made it to the history department just shy of the deadline, I ran into Janice, a floormate who was also taking the same class. Though we didn’t know each other well at that point, she could see that I was a mess and immediately demanded to know what was wrong. She was so supportive and offered to take me to Indian food to talk about things some more. I tried to decline—I was in my pajama pants at 4 o’clock in the afternoon—and told her that I really hadn’t been hungry since I found out. When she found out I hadn’t consumed food in three days, she insisted and dragged my pajama-covered-butt over to the restaurant.
That day, while stuffing our faces with chicken tikka masala and naan (my first foray into Indian cuisine), we bonded over a love of older guys, larger hips, and adjusting to our first year of college. It was then that I started to feel better. Don’t get me wrong, I was still heartbroken, but during that meal I was able to forget my misery and get to know a really great gal.
Though we are no longer friends, I will cherish the day that Janice forced me to talk about how I was feeling and introduced me to one of my favorite types of food. To outsiders, it may have just looked like two girlfriends sharing spicy food, but to me, it was when my heartache started to lessen. Thank you, Janice. You will never know how much that meant to me.
You see? Kindness can mean everything to someone. It can mean the difference between a bad day and a great day.
It doesn’t take a new house or a ton of money or gifts to warm someone’s heart. Sometimes it’s just the act of being there to listen to a story or offer a hug. Sometimes it’s a smile or holding a door open for someone with their hands full. Sometimes it’s just a forced meal of chicken tikka masala and chai tea.
Worked for me.