My husband has banned me from Amazon. Not for shopping. For reading book reviews. Specifically, my book reviews.
I wrote a book and because it was about kindness, I assumed everyone would love it. So when someone left me a two-star review, I cried. Seriously, stupid I know, but I boo-hooed for almost two days. One day for each star.
“I would have enjoyed this book so much if it had been stories about people who received unexpected kindness and gifts from others. I did not expect that the stories would be told by the givers. Only my personal opinion, but kindness & generosity is reduced when ‘declared,’ regardless of how great a gift or small the kindness given. I hope this author feels inspired to write another book that would be from the receiver’s point of view. She is a gifted writer.”
I read those words and wanted to scream, “Did she even read the whole book?” But somewhere between blowing my nose for the twelfth time and growing thicker skin, I remembered something. The person who wrote that review feels the same way I felt six years ago.
When I first started writing this column, I was worried because the very first story was about me and an act of kindness I had done for someone else.
I was so concerned I was on the wrong path or in some way committing a cardinal sin that I sent the story to my pastor and asked him to read it. He gave me the okay and the rest is history.
Sure, I try to write from both points of view: those who have done an act of kindness and those who were blessed by being the recipient.
But the truth I’ve come to learn since immersing myself in the study of kindness is this:
Kindness isn’t about them. It’s about you.
The greatest perks of kindness, the physical, mental and emotional benefits, are usually bestowed on the giver, not the receiver. It’s backward, but it’s the way I’ve seen it work in my own life and the lives of others.
We live in a world that prizes humility (probably because we don’t see it very often). We feel like bragging about our generosity or thoughtfulness in some way diminishes the eternal rewards for our actions. And if we’re running around yelling from the mountaintops about everything we’ve ever done, it probably does.
But here’s the flip side: when we only talk about the recipients, we come to idolize the givers. We see them as superheroes, someone we could never be because we don’t have their superpowers like time, energy and money.
By sharing what we’ve done and how it’s enriched our lives with joy and gratitude, we make kindness contagious. We make it look fun. We make other people want to try it. And we show them that it only takes a little sacrifice to make a big difference.
Feb. 12-18 is Random Acts of Kindness week. It’s meant to be a party, both online and in real life. Here’s the scoop from the Random Acts of Kindness website.
“Random Acts of Kindness week […] is an annual opportunity to unite through kindness. Formally recognized in 1995, this seven-day celebration demonstrates that kindness is contagious. It all starts with one act — one smile, one coffee for a stranger, one favor for a friend. It’s an opportunity for participants to leave the world better than they found it and inspire others to do the same.”
There are all kinds of great ideas to get you started and spark your imagination at randomactsofkindness.org. You can pick your favorites, create an online profile to share with friends and encourage others to give kindness a try.
Kindness is ready to take over this nation, but we have to let people know how easy it really is. No superheroes needed.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.