It’s Time to Make Kindness the New Normal

Portrait of child sitting in living room with Teddy bear

It’s time to make kindness the new normal.

A couple of weeks ago, I called the customer service department of a well-known online retailer because I ordered a gift for someone…and I mistakenly had it mailed to the wrong address.

Oops.

As I sheepishly explained my situation to the customer service rep (again, this situation was 100% my mistake), the customer service rep said something that both shocked and saddened me:

“Mr. Richards, I really appreciate you for being so patient and for not yelling at me. I’ll be happy to ship another package to the correct address, and I credited your account an extra $10 for being so kind about this situation.” 

Wait…what? Let me get this straight.

I was the bonehead who typed in the incorrect address, yet I was given an extra $10 solely for “not yelling” at the customer service rep for a mistake that I made??? And as an added bonus, she happily fixed my problem for me too! All in all, this entire situation probably took less than 15 minutes.

Most people would be very happy about this outcome. So, what is there to be “shocked and saddened” about?

A lot, actually.

It’s Time for a New Normal

After thanking the customer service rep profusely for her kindness, I couldn’t help but to feel a little sad about the situation as I got off the phone with her.

Here was this very sweet woman, who likely spends her typical workday getting verbally eviscerated by rude and entitled customers who are deficient in epicness. And when she finally was able to talk to someone who simply treated her like a human being, she felt the need to offer a monetary reward for it.

In other words, she basically paid me for being kind.

That’s crazy to me.

Last week, I met one of my readers in person. We chatted for 15 minutes before she also said something that shocked me:

“Wow, you’re really the same nice guy in person as you are on your blog. I sincerely applaud you for your integrity–it’s rare and refreshing.”

Please don’t get me wrong–I’m not one of those people who can’t take a compliment. I sincerely appreciate it when people tell me that I’m kind and that I have integrity. What makes me a little sad is that these traits are actually worth celebrating.

Is the bar set so low that being an insufferable jerk is the new normal? Is having a firm grip on our emotions and acting like a decent human being so rare that it should be rewarded? Is being “who you say you are” something that should shock most people?

If so, then we all have some work to do.

And as always, it starts with kindness.

The Courage to be Kind

We live in world where quite a few people view kindness as weakness.

Whether it’s the ramblings of a loud-mouthed politician, the misguided “leadership” philosophy of a bully boss, or the well-meaning advice of friends and family, there is no shortage of people who would like you to believe that this kindness stuff is for suckers and wimps.

They’re all dead wrong.

Kindness is a force that connects people. Kindness shines a light for people when they are struggling with dealing with dark times. Kindness fills our lives with depth, meaning and love. Most of all, I believe that kindness is the most powerful force available to us to positively change the world.

What you might not be aware of is that kindness requires courage.

It takes courage to be kind when your coworkers and boss are telling you to leave your compassion in the parking lot before you enter the office.

It takes courage to be kind when you’ve opened your heart to someone, and that person stomped on it and left it in tiny pieces.

It takes courage to be kind to people who are not kind to you.

All of this is true–but if we’re serious about leaving the world a little better than we found it, then we’re going to have to dig deep to do what the average Joe and Jill don’t have the guts to do:

Be kind anyway.

We Can All Be A Little Kinder

I’m going to assume that if you like to hang out on a blog called “The Positivity Solution” that you probably already buy into the idea that kindness is a good thing, so I’ll spare you the hard sell.

What I will say is that everyone reading these words (and the guy writing them) can still be kinder to others. No one alive has reached his/her kindness maximum.

So that’s my challenge for us. Can we be a little kinder, just today?

It doesn’t matter if it’s to your coworkers, your annoying neighbor, your significant other, the guy who just cut you off on the freeway, your kids, the friend who is always there for you, your parents, or the customer service rep who just hooked you up. You can leave your stamp on them by giving them a little more kindness today than you normally do.

The ways to do this are infinite, so I’ll leave the details to you (if you don’t know where to start, read this). But can I leave you with one last suggestion?

Don’t wait.

There’s no time to lose. The world needs more kindness now, and you can start giving it freely to others (and yes, to yourself too) the minute that you’re done reading this.

This is how we’ll actively change the world.

Your Turn

Do you think that the lack of kindness is the new normal? How have you seen kindness positively impact your life or the lives of others? How do you deal with the people who believe that kindness is a form of weakness? Jump into the comment section below and make your voice heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
Shola

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Comments

  1. Good Morning Shola,
    Thank you for this beautiful post. Kindness and smiles back to you and your followers. Yes let’s be kinder. I remember as a very young woman at our local grocers there was a surely vegetable man that would never respond to my kind salutations. I made it my mission to smile and show kindness every time. And it did take some months for him to finally say hello back and eventually smile, but the amazing thing is that he became super friendly thereafter to not only me, but the other customers too. This young girl’s mission taught me a valuable lesson about forgiveness, kindness and giving. Although in my life has shown me some tough times, heart stomped on, and all sorts of sadness, I do my best to share kindness. Have a wonderful week, and thank you again for reminding us of the simple but profound gift of kindness, Gina.

    • Hi Gina! I love your story, thanks for sharing! Its amazing how being kind can make other people eventually open up and be kind to others. Its a chain reaction! Kudos to you for making that man a bit kinder! have a great day 🙂

    • Right on, Gina! That’s what true kindness is all about, isn’t it? It’s easy to be kind to the people who are kind to us. The real test is finding the ability to be kind to the people who are not kind to us. And as you saw with the vegetable man, kindness has the power to not only change people, but it can be contagious too. Way to pay it forward!

  2. Lack of kindness appears to be the new normal in social media, like on Facebook, Twitter and the comments section of news stories. Lots of people use these online platforms to pump up their egos, offering the hot take by exuding intelligent sarcasm of some event in the news, or using these platforms to insult and tear down athletes, politicians, movie stars, musicians, etc. etc. And then, there’s the use of these platforms to mock, degrade, threaten or vilify “the other” including people of color, LGBTQs, religious, non-religious, and whatever category you don’t like. The ability to spew unkindness using these platforms is a problem and IMHO, has ruined the idea of the Internet as a place to “get in on the conversation” and make your voice heard.

    • Mark, I feel you, my friend. That’s why it took me THREE YEARS before I finally got the guts to publish my first blog post online. I knew how mean, nasty and judgmental the internet can be, and quite frankly, it scared the hell out of me. Finally though, I realized that I might not be able to change the entire internet, but at the very least, I could do my very small part of making it a kinder place by creating content that focused on treating ourselves and each other better. Sure, there are some awful people on the internet (just check out the comment section on pretty much any YouTube video to see what I mean), but I firmly believe that there are more kind people out there. We might not be as loud and bombastic as they are, but we’re still here!

  3. Kindness is a gift from mature souls and takes even more maturity to recognise, value and appreciate such a special trait our humane experience afford us to experience. Thank you Shola, I am very moved by your clear intention to be a better person and support us on the way. It is very kind 😉 lol

    • I saw what you did there, Mutty ;). I 100% agree with you–I think that old souls deeply appreciate and recognize kindness for the life-nourishing gift that it is. That’s why I’m going to keep spreading it around to as many people as I can, whether they want the gift or not.

  4. This is such a beautiful post, Shola! It’s so difficult nowadays to be kind. I see it at the office, hardly anyone can say a “hello, good morning”, everyone is in such a hurry and when the boss asks for something he never says “Please” nor “Thank you”. Its amazing how those two little words can make a huge difference!

    I try to be kind every day, sometimes it’s very hard to be kind to people who are mean to me (Or broke my heart in the past), but I remind myself “I am better than this” and put on my happy face. Kindness should be the new life style! Every time I see the news I get shocked at the many tragedies, death and ecocides happening around the world. We need more kindness and compassion in the world towards all living beings (Fellow humans, animals and the planet itself). We can all make a difference! 🙂

    Thanks for such a great post Shola! Blessings to you and happy Monday! 🙂

    • Thank you, Sofia! I talk to leaders consistently about how the simplest things like saying “please” and “thank you” can have such an enormous impact on the overall employee engagement and productivity in the office. It blows me away that in 2016, there are still so many people out there who just can’t grasp such a basic concept.

      I agree–being kind to people who aren’t kind to us is quite a challenge! While I’m not going to allow myself to get abused, I consistently remind myself that I never have to lower myself to act as unkind as they are acting toward me. You said it best though, if we would only spread more kindness to everything (each other, animals, the environment and to ourselves), this world would literally change overnight. As long as we keep doing our part (and convince others to do the same), we’ll eventually get there!

  5. Good morning Shola!
    Thank you for this post.
    I met a woman who was considered elitist and snobby because she did not smile easily. The other women I was with had warned me. Approaching her caustiosly with kindness I discovered that actually she was painfully shy. Her shyness had created a wall around her that people responded to with disdain and perpetuated the shyness. She was, after all, a very kind and fragile person with many good ideas and talents to share.
    For many years now I have practiced kindness first with people who appear to be shutting others out. It is almost like magic and a gift to both the reciever and the giver.

    • Elaine, this is such a great point–thanks for sharing! Sadly, I will admit to judging people as rude and conceited, when really they were just super shy. Just like you, I found that kindness was an amazing tool to break the ice and create a connection with people who are not natural conversationalists. You’re right, it really is like magic. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you, Shola. Kindness really is so important.

    I think that many people are afraid of looking weak or vulnerable, and that is where kindness is pushed aside. It is not an excuse, just an observation.

    The sad thing for many is that, without being vulnerable, real connections with each other are just not possible.

    It is only through honesty and kindness that we connect on a meaningful level.

    Thank you for the beautiful reminder, Shola. And happy Monday!

    Kathy

    • As always Kathy, you are spot-on. I agree–I don’t think that any meaningful connections can happen in life without a mutual exchange of kindness and honesty. Thank you for being a beautiful, living example of that fact!

  7. Happy Monday!!

    I recently made a purchase on eBay, and the seller accidentally sent me the wrong item. She’d been through a rough time and had been suffering from stress, therefore the mistake. I told her not to worry a bit. She sent the correct item and paid return shopping for the other item. But she wanted to do more for our time and honesty!! I was a bit muddled, like you, that I was being thanked for my honesty (the incorrect item cost $200). I couldn’t wrap my brain around not being honest or kind.

    As one who faced some of the worst unkindness you can imagine from my own family (painfully we had to cut ties for our safety and sanity), I still try my best to be kind to others. It’s amazing how something small like a smile can do wonders for a stranger.

    Hugs to you!

    • Krista, isn’t it amazing how simply being kind to the eBay seller made such a difference? I guarantee that you wouldn’t have received that same response if you started screaming at her or cursing her out. Kindness works wonders! On another note, props to you for cutting ties from the people in your life who have been brutally unkind to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s family or friends, I believe strongly that we can’t live positive lives as long as we’re dragging toxic people around with us. Most importantly, it’s a huge credit to you that you were able to deal with the family negativity, and not allow it to affect your ability to be kind to others. To me, that is awesome.

  8. Good morning Shola. People often tell me I am kind, or “too nice”, and I always feel guilty. I am not “kind” in general, although I do perform acts of kindness. I wish I really was kind, but I feel rushed, in a hurry, no time to listen, really listen, to everyone all the time. It makes me feel bad. On the other hand, I do actively avoid intentional acts of rudeness or meanness, even to those who probably deserve it. That’s exactly what you’re talking about, isn’t it? The world at large considers to me to be “kind”, when in fact I am simply not mean. What is going on in this world, that a person who practices patience, good manners, and tact is considered to be “kind”? To me, “kind” is on a whole different level, a level of an active practice of kindness, rather than passively responding evenly to provocation. Do you see the difference? I think there’s a huge difference. This feedback of people calling me “kind” and “too nice” has made me, in the past, dial back the kind acts I occasionally perform, for fear of being perceived as a wuss. Your post is a much needed reality check. If people think I’m “kind” now, I will up the ante, and really put that extra effort into being truly kind, all day every day. Thank you Shola for your helpful words.

    • Donna, I totally get what you’re saying. I think that kindness is so rare these days that simply “not being mean” is enough to break through the kindness threshold. And just like you, there was a time where I thought that being actively kind made people think of me as a total wuss. Thankfully, I’ve now seen how life-nourishing kindness can be, and I’m committed to be as kind as I can be, regardless of if anyone gets it or not. I’m so glad (and honored!) that this post served as a reality check for you!

  9. Yes, the bar is set too low now. My thoughts on this are that our culture is rushed, we’re living at high speed, too consumed with doing and getting; we don’t have time for common courtesy. Not a good excuse. Technology is great for alot of things but it’s not great for Peace of Mind, moving at a sane pace, stopping to notice the little things so that there is time to offer common courtesy to one another. Having time for kindness and gratitude.

    • I agree Teresa, we are super busy, rushed and too attached to technology these days–but even so, I believe that consistent kindness is very possible. We do have to make some very real changes in order to make it happen, and it starts with awareness. Hopefully this article will help others to find that awareness!

  10. Shola, Thank you for this wonderful essay on kindness. I invite you to join the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/308467496214130/ People Standing Together for Social Justice: Helping Effect Positive Change. Your outlook is beautiful and when we show kindness the ripple effect transcends millions in the world.

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