Kindness is the act or state being marked by good and charitable behavior, pleasant disposition, and concern for others.
I've been thinking about kindness lately. I've been in a flare up of my Fibromyalgia symptoms for a couple of weeks now and it has gotten more severe this week. I finally had to give in and take a couple of planned days off of work so that I can (hopefully) get enough rest to get back to square one. This week also happens to be Invisible Illness Awareness Week. I read a lot of blogs and articles written by people with various chronic illnesses who are met with so much opposition over their illness from people they love, coworkers, and even their doctors. I've been so fortunate that I haven't run into that at all in my journey. My family and friends have been so supportive and loving through the years when I've been extremely sick and searching for an answer. My coworkers have always been kind and wonderful. I've also been lucky to have doctors who take me seriously and listen to me. I was diagnosed with thyroid problems in 2007 after having my third son. It runs in my family so was not a surprise. Then I went through two years of tests and illness and frustration until I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2009. I was also officially diagnosed with Essential Tremors in 2009 but that one wasn't really a surprise. I've had tremors since I was a teenager. They just became worse in the past few years.
I'm so thankful that I've had the support that I have from the people I know and love. When I read articles about people who haven't had that, it shocks me. How hard is it to just be kind to someone who is suffering? I know there are people out there who may be selfish and martyr themselves in the name of their illness and I can see where that would be annoying, but, I think the majority of people are like me and try to live their lives and push through the bad days to be happy and come out on top. Some of my loved ones think I push myself too much sometimes but I just refuse to let this define me completely. I actually have learned a lot from having a chronic illness but that's another post.
So back to kindness. Google the word 'kindness' and it's very encouraging to see so many websites and blogs devoted to Random Acts of Kindness. I know there is good and kindness everywhere in the world. I get discouraged though by a growing resistance to kindness. It seems that more and more people consider kindness a weakness. I've seen countless Facebook statuses from people who get hurt and then decide it's not worth being kind. I want to yell at them "IT IS WORTH IT TO BE KIND!" You come out as the victor every time you can be kind to someone - even when they don't deserve it.
Being kind does not equal being a doormat. Being kind does not mean that you let people run over you and treat you badly. Being kind means you have compassion. Being kind means you see someone who is hurting or needs help and you reach out to them. Being kind means sometimes you just do something nice to make someone smile. You don't have to have a lot of money or extra time available to be kind. Sometimes just letting someone know that you are there, acknowledging them and their needs, and that is enough. I don't have extra money lying around and I often don't have a lot of energy to expend, however, I still think I can use what I have to be kind to someone who needs it.
I love the movement towards Random Acts of Kindness. I think it's great. However, I think kindness can start with the people you live with and around. Family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, acquaintances...start there. We tend to look inwards so much these days and it causes a selfish society (I am guilty of this too). Technology is great in letting us reach out to people anywhere in the world to connect but I think it also keeps us from connecting in person with the people who matter most. I often see people who are out having dinner together and one (or both) are texting and playing with their phone. They miss an opportunity to connect and be kind to one another. The Internet allows us to search things that we care about and then it caters to those searches later. It's really easy to find multiple webpages devoted to the things we care about and support our world view to the point that we lose the ability to see an opposing side. My point to this is that I think technology can be great but I think it lends itself to people being more selfish and less kind to one another.
We all have our trials in life. I know there are people much worse off than I am. I try to keep that perspective and it makes me want to reach out and be kind to others. You really never know who may be fighting a battle that you may never understand. The smallest acts of kindness can sometimes make a huge difference.
In 2009 right after I was diagnosed with Fibro, I had shared my diagnosis with family and friends. A few weeks later, I woke up on a Saturday morning and was getting dressed and ready for the day. I heard my doorbell ring and opened the door. Standing there was my friend, Tina. I have been friends with Tina since the seventh grade and she has always been one of my greatest and most loyal friends. Tina lives about 500 miles away from me. She worked all day on Friday and then drove through the night to arrive at my doorstep around 10:00 in the morning on Saturday.
"What are you doing here??" I exclaimed.
"I came to give you a hug," she said. Then she hugged me.
Tina stayed with me all day and night Saturday and then got up early on Sunday morning to drive over 8 hours home so she could be at work on time Monday morning. She literally drove 1000 miles that weekend to give me a hug. I will never ever forget that for as long as I live. Best.Hug.EVER. I feel like I could never repay that kindness to her but I want to try. That's a good friend right there. Everyone should have a Tina in their life.
My point to all of this? Be kind. I'm thankful that I have a kind heart -- I struggle with being too selfish sometimes and I'm not always kind, but I try to be. I've learned that it's not a weakness to be kind. Some of the strongest people I know are the most kind. You just never know what someone else is facing so reach out and be kind to them.
Yes, my long and rambling post is now complete. Thanks for hanging in there. I appreciate anyone who reads my blog. Now I'm going to rest and figure out a way to be kind to someone today despite my limitations. What are you going to do to be kind today?