Create A Groundswell Of Powerful Positive Change
By Barbara Pierce
I’ve been gravely saddened by people this past year. The COVID-19 crisis has brought out the worst in some people: hoarding toilet paper, crowding in bars despite guidelines, attacking our Capitol.
What I need are stories of kindness; stories that will restore my faith in people.
I need reminding that, in these days of darkness, there are those who demonstrate the best in people. Small acts of kindness that are moments of light.
An act of kindness is a selfless act, planned or spontaneous, performed to either help or cheer up someone, for no reason other than to make people happier, with no expectation of a reward.
In the Mohawk Valley, we take care of each other. There is much kindness to be found here. People and organizations in our community do spread volumes of kindness. I was uplifted to find the following stories online, just a few examples:
Leo, an elementary student at the Utica Academy of Science, received a gift card. Instead of spending it, Leo donated it to those who need it the most, the Rescue Mission of Utica.
Judy Jerome of New Hartford shared this: “The coronavirus crisis is overwhelming, but sometimes we witness heroic acts of kindness. For instance, knowing that we were self-quarantined and unable to shop, a guardian angel left two gallons of distilled water on our front porch for my husband’s C-PAP machine. Thank you, Angel.”
This from Rev. Tamara Vrooman of Rome: I was snowed in when a friend who had shoveled out and trekked to the grocery store pulled up in front of our house with food and treats for the kids. My heart was overwhelmed with gratitude and love by her simple act of kindness.
I was most impressed with Makenzi Leigh, of Rome, special education teacher at Upstate Cerebral Palsy: “For my 25th birthday, I decided to complete random acts of kindness. This was a great opportunity to give back and spread some good vibes in a time when we need it the most.”
Leigh spent her birthday doing simple things for others, giving a thank you letter to her mail carrier, bringing a bouquet of flowers to a librarian and another to the person at the drive-through window where she stopped to buy coffee and doughnuts to bring to the police and fire stations.
“It feels good!” is how she summed up her day. “I had small treasures to brighten the day for people. I’m so glad I choose to do this; it was definitely a fun way to celebrate my birthday!”
“I encourage you to take the time to be kind to strangers, make their day a little bit brighter, just simple things,” she said.
Spreading kindness not only brightens someone’s day, it will boost your health and happiness, according to research. It’s a win-win for all. Studies show that putting the well-being of others before our own without expecting anything in return stimulates the reward centers of our brain.
“If we all do one random act of kindness a day, we might just set the world in the right direction,” said Dr. Kelli Harding in her book “The Rabbit Effect.” In her book, she shares groundbreaking new research showing that love, friendship, and community can have a greater impact on our health than anything that happens in the doctor’s office.
“To live a truly healthy life we need to choose to connect to one another and find purpose, joy and meaning in our lives.” She advocates that we choose to do simple acts of kindness daily. “The choices to be kind supports our emotional well-being and reduces stress which may help prevent many diseases.”
Small gestures that support human worth, when practiced regularly, create community and are good for the doer and the receiver. We build our collective well-being. In that there is great strength.
Little things: When you stop for coffee, say hello and talk to the person who hands you your drink. There is great power in a friendly hello. That friendly hello may help her be kinder to the next customer.
Lend a hand to someone carrying groceries, say good morning to a neighbor or stranger, offer a compliment, maybe to a stranger, thank someone you appreciate, offer your help to someone, let someone go past you in the grocery line.
Kindness is contagious. Not only will you improve the mood of the recipient, you’ll also make them likely to “pay it forward.” This means one good deed can create a ripple effect and improve the day of dozens.
As more people create positive ripples, the bigger the effect. Together we can create a groundswell of powerful positive change.
To quote Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can to that.”
Barbara Pierce is a retired licensed clinical social worker with many years of experience helping people. If you would like to purchase a copy of her book, “When You Come to the Edge: Aging” or if you have questions for her, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.