For most of my adulthood, I have mistakenly believed that kindness flows from the excess in my life.
I have extra money, I can throw a little in the jar.
I have extra time, I can offer to take a neighbor to the store.
I have extra energy, I can volunteer to read to my son’s class.
Scarcity is scary. Maybe that’s why the two words sound the same. It’s scary to think we might not have enough if we give away what we have.
But guess what? We will never have enough. It’s the great Achilles’ heel of humanity: we are created to crave more.
When I started working in TV making $18,000 a year, I thought the people making $32,000 were filthy rich. When I started making $32,000 I thought, “If I only made $50,000. Then I’d finally be satisfied.”
It’s a vicious cycle. The more we have, the more we want. A friend once said it this way: the bigger the button, the bigger the hole. The more we cram into our shopping bags, the bigger the storage shed we’ll eventually need.
This is an especially important time of year to take a good hard look at our internal thoughts on surplus and scarcity. In just a few days, we’re all going to go hog wild online and in stores buying things we never knew we needed because someone tells us if we don’t, we’ll never get the chance again. Hurry! Limited time only! Don’t let this deal pass you up!
Maybe we pass the deal up for ourselves, but feel like we need to buy something bigger, nicer, better for the people we love. At this price, how can I possibly say no? It’s like I’m saving money!
I have an uneasy feeling that many of us are going to wake up mid-January and realize we are spent. Physically, emotionally and financially spent.
I’m not suggesting that we put the brakes on decorating or shopping or baking thousands of delicious cookies. I’m just suggesting that we use our limited resources on things that pay big dividends.
Like kindness. Real kindness. Not the kind of kindness that says, “I have to give them a gift because they got one for me.”
Real kindness carries a risk. It forces us to trust. That’s when kindness becomes beautiful and invigorating and a truly remarkable force in our lives. When we give, we get. Kindness is like a secret passageway through which God blesses us as we bless others.
But we have to take the first step down the seemingly dark alley in order to see that we will actually be receiving much more than we’re giving, when we’re giving from the heart.
We are staring down the barrel of Black Friday. It’s fun, it’s exciting and it can also be the death of us. So this Black Friday, I’m joining a group of kindness activists to turn Black Friday into RAK Friday. The idea is that while we go about the hustle and bustle, we spread love through Random Acts of Kindness.
Worried you don’t have enough money, time or energy to make that happen? Here are a few ideas from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation to get you started.
Compliment a stranger in passing.
Get in touch with an old friend.
Be a positive presence on social media.
Pick up trash you see lying around.
Kindness is a simple but stunningly powerful tool to remind us that we are enough and we have enough.
For more RAK Friday ideas and encouragement to continually choose kindness, visit www.randomactsofkindness.org.
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.