We Are Not Alone: The Power of Kindness

During this time of isolation, we are sharing prayers, poems, inspirational music, videos and quotes that uplift our spirits in a special email newsletter each Tuesday. Here is an excerpt from our February 2 edition.

Ripples of Kindness

Reflection by Jim Black

As we wait out the contagion of COVID-19 and learn to live with our sequestered and static lives, I think we can all use some uplift and comfort in these times of uncertainty. One of the better ways to bring some relief and joy to our lives is to seek out ways to take care of each other. Senator Cory Booker reminds us that “good energy — kindness, decency, and love — is the most transformative force in the world.” Even the smallest act of kindness can resonate across the distances that currently separate us.

In fact, kindness and compassion is being shown in our midst (starting with the ESG community) and is radiating out to communities around the globe. One thing we’re discovering is: The effects of altruism are contagious. Gospel songwriter Kevin Heath states: “No act of kindness is too small. The gift of kindness may start as a ripple that over time can turn into a tidal wave affecting the lives of many.” Bishop Desmond Tutu echoes that thought: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” In a word, acts of kindness end up spontaneously paying it forward.

Conscious kindness is an inner desire that makes us want to do good things even if we do not receive anything in return. When we act on that desire, there is kindness in everything we think, say, want, and do. That is to say: Kindness is an action, not just a feeling. Feeling benevolence and not acting on it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. Treating people with generosity, with patience, with respect — those are the defining behaviours.

But they don’t have to be extraordinary or heroic things. Too often we underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring. “The little unremembered acts of kindness and love are the best parts of a person’s life,” says poet William Wordsworth. Aesop adds: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
So what kind of acts are we talking about? Consider the following:

  • Holding the elevator door for someone
  • Buying an ESG Good Food Box for someone who might need one
  • Giving a stranger a compliment
  • Offering to drive someone to a doctor’s appointment
  • Keeping in touch with ESG members as an ESG Ambassador
  • Let someone cut in front of you in line
  • Buy the person behind you a coffee
  • Make dinner for a family in need
  • Reconnect with an old friend
  • Make and send a handmade card
  • Let someone into your lane
  • You get the idea…

During a crisis, we are told, the people who cope best are those who help others. It follows: To help ourselves, we should start by helping others. Random acts of kindness can lift anyone’s spirits — certainly those of the recipient but especially those of the person extending the kindness. “One of the best anti-anxiety medications available is generosity,” says psychologist Adam Grant. Helping others takes us out of our own inner shadows and expands and deepens our relationships with other people. We find meaning and purpose when we love and help others, no matter who they may be, or whether or not they choose to show gratitude. “Hurt is hurt, and every time we honour … the struggles of others by responding with empathy and compassion, the healing that results affects all of us,” declares writer Brene Brown.

To conclude, I will draw upon the wisdom and experience of sages, spiritual and secular:
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. (Dalai Lama)
“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.” (author Maya Angelou)
“Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” (author L.R. Knost)
“Courage. Friendship. Character. Kindness. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” (author R.J. Palacio)

We truly can never have too much kindness in our lives — especially during a crisis such as COVID-19.

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