I’m still surprised by kindness. Especially after spending 30+ years in places that extolled kindness as a virtue and then usually reserved it for those who agreed with them. Spoiler alert, I was often the impertinent one asking hard questions and poking at sacred cows. But being kind to those who agree with us is somewhat of a human default setting.
Last year, a few weeks after the car accident, I had to watch my design business slip away with nothing I could do about it. The tighter I held on, the faster it seemed to dissolve. In that dark room that was the bulk of my world for the first few months, I had to make a decision. I could get mad and stay bitter about what I was losing. And I was angry. Life is in no way fair.
Anger is a normal and often healthy response. It’s how we process it that can get a bit sticky.
But I knew I would stay stuck if I didn’t intentionally do something different. So I made a determined decision to encourage people who were doing the exact things I wanted to be to be doing. The writers, the painters, the educators, the creators, the entrepreneurs. I scoured my social feeds to find people I could cheer on. We all need cheerleaders. We are hard-wired for relationship.
Something incredible began to unfold. In a place that was completely isolating, I started to forge community. Kindness and community are choices. Intentional actions. Courage to show up vulnerable. Courage to see and be seen. Courage to celebrate and amplify one another’s messages.
Beloved, we don’t know how our actions impact the world around us. The simplest act of speaking a kind word could change someone’s world. I just didn’t realize how much engaging in this practice would change my world at the same time.
It’s easy to forget that real people are behind the social accounts we follow. It is easy to think the person with 55,000 followers doesn’t need our encouragement because surely their messages are overflowing with throngs of adoring fans.
The hard truth: the more well-known someone becomes, often the more isolated they are. I don’t pretend to speak for everyone. But for many of my friends and clients over the years, this has been a consistent experience. And the people who are the most likely to get in touch are usually not the happy campers.
Our voices matter. Our kindness pours courage into the people around us. We have the power to be intentional, to be daring, to elevate the voices around us. And we may be surprised to find, that when we elevate the people around us, we all rise together.
This week there is has been an incredible social media initiative started called Only 7 Seconds. It is a call to stop and see the people around us. And connect with them. To combat the isolation that often leads to depression and suicide. To use our devices for more than just entertainment. Take a moment to check out their website and see how you can get involved.