Have you ever thrown a rock into a body of water that was still? The collision of the rock causes ripples to spread throughout the entire pond until they reach the water’s edge. It can be a lovely experience that also demonstrates how our actions impact others. When we show love and kindness to others, it spreads to those in our immediate circle and even beyond. Hatred and anger follow the same logic.
We have a perilous inclination to believe that our acts only have an impact on the individuals to whom we aim them, but I believe that the impact of our actions is far broader than we realise. As a result, it’s critical that we start being more deliberate in our actions and words.
Let’s take a look at this from a broader perspective. When someone performs a mass shooting, for example, the families immediately affected are grieved, but the murders also affect many people beyond those families. Acts of kindness and love follow the same logic. When we observe Mother Teresa reaching out with love and compassion to the lowest of the poor, we feel that love as well.
Love has the ability to reach a large number of individuals, making it a powerful force in the world. Hatred has a similar effect. Instead of leading with our anger, I feel the world would be a better place if we focused more on learning to love and offer kindness to others. However, we are a diverse species with a wide range of views and upbringings. We may not always be able to control what others do, but we do have control over our own actions and the ripples we create in the world. The choice then becomes whether we want to give wrath and hate or love and kindness once we’ve realised this. The latter is my preference.
Spreading compassion and love has a great impact not only on others but also on ourselves. When I help people, I feel at my best, and when I upset someone, I feel at my worst. When someone throws a boulder of hate into the world, they may feel temporarily relieved, but that emotion frequently turns into shame and anger towards themselves. When we spread kindness in the world, the same principle applies. Instead of shame and resentment, we’ll experience gratitude and compassion for ourselves.
Kindness, in my opinion, is a skill that we choose to put out into the world every day. When it comes to showing love and kindness to others, the most difficult part is when the other person does not deserve it. Even when anger feels overwhelming, I believe kindness should win out. When it isn’t possible, as it will be at times, I propose going away. Leaving the debate can help prevent hate waves from spreading throughout the planet.
I had a vacation to the east coast many years ago. My friend’s mother also lives on the east coast, and I knew she was lonely because of my friend. While on vacation, I decided to pay her a visit and keep her company for a few hours. I enjoyed spending time with her, but I didn’t think much of it when I returned to my vacation. Years later, my friend informed me that his mother had told him how important that visit was to her and how much the bond we made had influenced her.
I’m not using this example to brag; rather, I’m using it to demonstrate that we don’t always realise the influence of our actions on others. I had no idea that my visit would benefit my friend’s mother, but I let kindness lead my decisions that day, and love and connection spread throughout the world as a result.
Allowing love and kindness to govern my decisions brings me a tremendous lot of joy. When I do things for others, I don’t need to know the consequences of my acts since simply completing the deed is sufficient. When I bring joy to others, my heart is filled with joy. When I express rage and hatred, on the other hand, my heart does not feel fulfilled. Hatred, I feel, causes harm to our world, whereas kindness enhances its beauty.
I’d want to challenge you to pick a day or a week when you will be exceptionally friendly to others. This could include complementing strangers, expressing gratitude to those who assist you during the day or asking how someone’s day is going and truly listening. Throughout the day, we are provided with numerous opportunities to make a positive difference. I implore you to lead with compassion and love and to simply share it rather than expecting a return. Kindness is similar to a scent. You get to enjoy it, but others in your vicinity can as well. You might even start to realise how your activities affect the people around you after a day or a week.
In my line of work, I’ve heard innumerable stories about people who were contemplating suicide but changed their minds because of someone else’s compassion. We don’t always realise how our actions affect others. And now that we know that our actions and words have an effect on the pond of life, consider the impact we could have if we choose compassion over hate.
When we show so much compassion for others, it’s critical that we take care of ourselves as well. I believe that we can only radiate love and kindness in the world if we first feel love and kindness for ourselves. This may be as simple as ordering takeout after a long day, going for a walk in the park, or doing nothing for an afternoon. When our own energy is renewed, we may transfer that happiness onto others.
Kindness is a skill that can be learned with practice. But most importantly, we must learn to speak lovingly and compassionately to ourselves. We can only love others if we first love ourselves. And I believe that if we let love and kindness drive our decisions, the world we live in will become a more beautiful one.