“You’ve done a lot of acts of kindness today, Mom.” I seriously cannot get anything past my 11-year old-daughter.
I had just hopped back in the car with a Diet Mountain Dew that I picked up at the gas station for a neighbor.
“What do you mean, Jo?” I honestly couldn’t think of any act of kindness I had done besides the current one.
“Well, you just bought that soda for Cathy and earlier we dropped off shoes for Ashlyn and before that you took me to JoAnn’s to pick out fabric for Michelyn.”
My daughter had just cracked my code: On days when my spirits are low and my anxiety over the future is high, I start overdosing on acts of kindness. It’s like medicine to me. The more things I can do to brighten someone else’s day, the more energy and positivity I pump into my own body.
I just found out I have breast cancer. My doctor says we caught it early and with a little (or big) surgery, we will be able to fix this thing.
Here’s the backstory: I turned 40 on May 7 and, like I do every year on my birthday, I went in for my annual check-up. The doctor felt a lump that I had never noticed. She sent me in for an ultrasound, then mammogram, then MRI and then a biopsy. Before I even got the diagnosis, I knew it was breast cancer. I could feel God whispering to me that everything was going to be OK and that he was going to use this experience to help other women.
If you don’t have this type of relationship with God, I understand it may sound strange to hear that I was hearing from the Great Almighty, but I’m telling you, that’s just how it worked for me.
Most days, I am filled with an incredible peace and joy (yes JOY!) as I am being loved up by my friends and soaking in each suddenly precious moment with my family. However, every once in a while, fear creeps in. It fills me with lies and starts my heart racing. And that’s when I turn once again to kindness. Intentional, systematic, courageous kindness. I go out and look for ways to brighten other people’s days.
It’s like my own private form of chemo—only there are really no negative side effects. Sure, it may cost you a few bucks. And it may take up a few minutes of your perfectly timed-out day. And you may get a strange look from the recipient of your kindness. But the return on your investment is priceless.
If you don’t believe me, try it. The next time life overwhelms you, send out an encouraging email to an unsuspecting soul, or buy the silly magnet that reminds you of a friend and deliver it to her or him, or pick up a soda for the lady who lives next door. Be random. Go off script. Do something no one would expect you to do. Take a risk. Be courageous in your kindness.
It’s the most healing medicine you could ever take, for whatever ails you.
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 columns run every Saturday.