The Clarion

A little kindness can go a long way

Katie Paape, Staff Writer

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A flashing road sign along Commercial Avenue at the start of the school year reminded drivers to: “Watch for pedestrians. Be kind.”

The sign not only served as a gentle warning to not unintentionally run people over, but as a reminder to be nicer as we go through our busy lives.

Kindness is a familiar term that we all understand and appreciate, but rarely act on.

In a study by Barbara Frederickson, positivity was found to make people healthier. I think this is something we all know already, but often neglect in practice.

If you think back on the conversations you’ve had recently, how many of them consisted of mainly complaining? Too much homework, too much money spent on lunch, or too much to do.

We complain all the time, and usually without even really realizing it.

While it may seem inconsequential to complain on occasion, think about how things could be different if we were more kind and optimistic. It might open us up to experiences we would never have had, with people we would never have otherwise met.

Though kindness is never frowned upon, our society tends to honor those who are intelligent and hardworking over those who are kind. People are not defined by their values or kindness the way they are by their GPAs and resumes. In fact, kindness isn’t measured at all.

With so many other parts of life to worry about, kindness easily fades into the back-burner of our minds.

You may be wondering; how can busy college students have time for kindness? We don’t try to be unkind. We are simply just trying to get through the day.

But here’s the thing: we’re all just trying to get through the day. A simple kind word or action just might make a world of difference in someone else’s life if we would just take a moment to stop and notice them.

As the election approaches, kindness is more important than ever.

Politics is ever consuming and has the reputation of making even the most civil people anxious. We often applaud those who are angry in politics because we see it as a protest, and protests are meant to inspire change.

Most of the time, though, change is created not through force but through compassion and understanding of the people around us.

I’m not suggesting, of course, that protests should always be silent. There is certainly a time and a place to get upset over the many injustices that are ever present around the world.

However, if you truly want to reach people, kindness will always prevail over protest or violence. If you want someone to understand you, you must learn about that person on a deep level, what their own beliefs are, and why they were formed.

Essentially, if you want to make an impact on someone’s life, you must fully understand them, and this level of understanding can only be reached through friendship, which begins with kindness. If we want to unite our world, we must start with ourselves by listening to the voices we don’t agree with and responding to them with kindness.

We need to start recognizing that that people with different beliefs are as human as we are, and are not different creatures that happen to exist in the same universe.

At the end of the day, we don’t know what’s going on in another person’s life. We can make assumptions about a person’s happiness, lifestyle, or personality, but we can’t see what they see or experience how they perceive the world around them.

For this reason, kindness and empathy should always be shown to people, even when they are unkind themselves.

We have the power to shape people with our words and actions. We can create experiences for others that make a profound impact on their lives. Words are powerful, so use their power to make the world a better place.

That casual sign visible on a busy road represents everything we already know, but we constantly forget. Like everything in life, kindness must become a habit.

Sometimes we need these little reminders to be kind once in a while, the same way our cars remind us to put gas in them, so we can continue driving.

To improve your life and the lives of those around you, make your own personal reminder to be kind. While waiting at red lights, waiting in line, or waiting for crossing pedestrians, a mental reminder of this simple idea may just change your life.

ACTS OF KINDNESS

Here are five ideas for simple acts of kindness that take little effort that you can do today:

• Buy a coffee for the person behind you.

• Compliment someone.

• Offer to help someone who looks lost in class (teaching helps you solidify your own knowledge!).

• Start a conversation with someone sitting nearby.

• Try to speak positively of everyone you know.

 

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A little kindness can go a long way