By Yael Kaufman
If I told you that each individual in this world was part of the same world, you wouldn’t disagree with me. It’s a fact. We all live here. Perhaps in different places, definitely in different time zones, and without a doubt bearing different perspectives and opinions.
But we’re all part of the same world. You agreed to this. Let’s run with it.
Like any part of a whole, what one part does affects the rest. Right?
If each of us is part of this whole world, then the things we do affect each other, too. That means…the strangers on the street, every passerby on your way to work, the barista at your favorite coffee shop, and the list goes on.
To create a more tangible and digestible image…let’s imagine that each individual is connected to every other by a thin piece of fiber and together we make up a web (a huge one, at that). Every action you do creates a slight pull in some sort of direction, gently shifting every other member of the web. You didn’t realize you had that much power, did you? It might not be noticeable. Sometimes these things can create massive shifts and sometimes a shift so gentle it’s barely felt and definitely not plainly visible. But the shift happens.
We all lead busy, bustling lives. There are always so many things that occupy our minds and our bodies. We spend most of our lives distracted by one thing or another, so much so that we’re rarely in the present. But we also spend a ton of time focusing on ourselves as individuals, which is nothing to be ashamed of. This just means we’re concerned with how we’re living our own lives, how things are affecting us, and sometimes we lose sight of that massive external world we’re so connected to.
If you were to look at yourself in the mirror and see little pluses and minuses floating around inside the shell of your figure, you would probably think something along the lines of, “I should definitely work to turn those minuses into pluses.” Because we want to be happy. If it was as simple as drawing a little vertical line onto those minuses, how many of us wouldn’t do it? Practically none. That’d be silly.
If every person was a little plus or minus floating around our world, or communal body if you will, and it was just as easy to change the minuses into pluses…would you do the same for them as you would for yourself? I don’t know if you would, but it’s something to think about. We are all connected. We are each part of one, large external body. The more negatives in our communal body, the more we will be weighed down as a whole. We have a duty to the world just like we do to ourselves, to try and make it as positive as it can be.
The first step is realizing you have the power to do it.
“Change” might seem daunting. When people hear about “changing the world” they think of massive organizations and movements, things like ending world hunger and genocides and wars. Things that seem so much bigger than us that we easily cower before them and go on our merry ways. But it doesn’t have to be like that, you know. Change doesn’t have to mean something huge or even medium-sized. It can occur through small shifts. These add up. These make a difference, too. And these are easy and attainable, for everyone.
I told you before how much power you had–the push and pull you effectively can cause. And I also told you just now that it’s very easy to pull parts of the web out of the negative and into the positive (minuses into pluses)…and that this kind of shift will benefit everyone. So, how?
We can do this through the gift of kindness.
I call it a gift because it’s essentially something we are all handed, free of charge, and there are no negatives that come along with it. There’s no fine print. Giving kindness provides happiness, for the giver and the receiver. That’s it. How many people realize they’ve been given something so purely positive, a tool they can use every single day to make a positive change in someone else’s life? in the world?
It’s time to wake up and realize and appreciate how lucky we are to have this ability. There’s nothing else in the world like it. Except maybe love, but we can talk about that later. Kindness is easy. It’s as simple as telling someone you like what they’re wearing, hugging someone who looks upset, high fiving a random passerby on the street, asking someone if they need help, lending someone a pen.
A testament to how little we utilize this gift is how shockingly surprised a person is when someone does something nice for him/her. Have you experienced the shock-then-smile on people’s faces after doing something nice for them? It means we don’t expect this out of people. This makes me only a little sad. A little sad because it means we so rarely experience this kind of kindness. But less so because I know many of these receivers will then go on to do good things, themselves, and there goes the chain of cause and effect.
We have the opportunity to be a catalyst for positive change, and it’s not. hard. We go our whole lives looking for reasons to feel proud, experiences to prove to ourselves and others that we’ve “achieved something,” that we’re not worthless. Guess what? We can do it in five minutes. We could probably even do it in 30 seconds. That’s all it takes to make a lasting change in a person’s day and a person’s life.
It’s really all at our fingertips. Let’s make moves to make kindness a top priority. Let’s use the gift we’ve been given. We need it now more than ever.
Lastly, if you’re in the mood to feel really inspired and empowered (so much so that you’re going to want to run around doing nice things for strangers all day long), I highly recommend reading this transcript of a graduation speech made by George Saunders. It discusses kindness, albeit in a different way, and it’s very much worth the read. It will brighten your day, guaranteed!