Err in the direction of kindness.
- George Saunders
I have enjoyed being a member of numerous teams, organizations and clubs. But the newest club I joined, no one wants to be a part of.
I am now a member of the unofficial Shingles Club. I am grateful that my healing is moving along and that all will be just fine soon. But it has been a longer road than I’d hoped.
There were a few nights early on in my bout with shingles when the nerve pain was so bad I had a hard time sleeping. I was feeling pretty low. I tried all the tricks that usually pick up my spirits: I visualized my favorite meal, my perfect home, my dream vacation. Nothing worked.
So I started to make a mental list of seemingly small things people can do to put a smile on others' faces, to give them a bit of a lift. Guess what? It really took my mind off my pain. I played this game for a few nights. Here’s my list so far:
• Hold the door for someone (or more than one someone).
• Put a note that’s humorous or kind (or both) on a friend or colleague’s windshield.
• Return another person’s shopping cart along with your own to the designated place.
• Pay the toll for the car behind you.
• Write a postcard to an old friend.
• Scan a high school or college photo and mail it to your former classmates.
• Say hello to a passerby.
• Thank those in the military when you see them.
• Pass along a recipe you love to a foodie friend.
• Let another driver go ahead of you.
• Stop to help when you see someone with car trouble.
• Make a double batch of soup—or cookies—and share it with someone who wouldn’t expect it.
• Pass along a book you enjoyed (like Edward Grinnan’s The Promise of Hope or Rick Hamlin’s 10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without) to a friend.
I’m going to think of more Small Kindnesses and, more importantly, act on them.
Small kindnesses are things we can do without a huge effort... little ways to do outreach. And you never know: A small act of kindness might turn out to have surprising significance to someone else.
I love this quote from Mother Teresa: “I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” We all are little pencils trying, in our own ways, to fill God’s letter with ever more love, goodness and grace.
Please share with me your own small kindnesses. I would love to give them a try!
Katheryn (Katie) Allen Berlandi is the seventh of Guideposts cofounders Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Ruth Stafford Peale’s eight grandchildren. She is a clinical social worker with a private practice focusing on children, adolescents and families, and a consultant for Guideposts and the Guideposts Foundation. Katie lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, two daughters and son.