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Friday, December 2, 2011

Overwhelming Kindness

I was just thinking about kindness today.
And I was going to try and find out how to explain that I get emotional when I hear about people doing nice things for each other, when I realised that 'overwhelming kindness' might be an accurate phrase.

Last year, I went to an AIESEC conference in Ottawa. My favourite, favourite thing at that conference (apart from the energy and cool people I met) was one of the last events on the last day, where they set aside about an hour to talk about how we were changing the world.
I can't remember how it started, but what I remember was a room full of people volunteering one good/kind/thoughtful thing they had done for someone else. There were stories about people talking to strangers that looked upset, giving people rides when it was raining, paying for someone's bus fare when they didn't have enough change... it went on and on. Person after person stood up and said one thing they had done for someone else. And at first I was scared to say anything because I felt there wasn't anything big enough that I could share with people that did these amazing things.
But after each person said something, I realised that even a tiny, small thing can make someone's day brighter.

And by the end of this - the facilitators had to limit people "okay, just two more...." - I was so overwhelmed by the good and self-less things these people in the same room had done for other people, that tears were streaming down my face and I couldn't wait to leave and do more good things for people.

Sometimes I feel that way - I feel overwhelmed when I see someone do something nice for someone else. I was watching 127 hours the other day (fantastic movie, by the way!!) and there's one scene where all these concerned people give water to this guy and call him help... they didn't have to do that, but it helped save his life. When I hear about bystander stories where people stand up for victims of bullying and walk off in protest; Random Acts of Kindness day; when a heard the story about my friend getting a bad call and having to leave work, and the person waiting for service in line understood and helped her close shop - these things are so touching that they really get to me.
Perhaps I'm more affected by the good things that I hear about, vs the bad, because they aren't as well heard of. The news is always full of bad things happening, that we deal with it (or at least I do) by protect ourselves and putting distance between what's happening there and here.
But when I hear about good, kind things happening, it really gets to me. There IS good in the world. I knew it all along :)

In India, I was constantly having a debate with the other interns whether there are more good people in the world than bad. I'm convinced there is more good than bad, but they think the opposite. While our opinions could be based on our own experiences and where we grew up, I think it says a lot about ourselves.

I'm proud to say I still have hope that people can be kind and thoughtful towards each other. It makes me feel that I'm not alone, and it makes me hopeful that if I'm ever in trouble, people will help me in a heartbeat. Maybe it's just my way of dealing with the world - it's better to be hopeful than scared - but it may either burn me out in my field (social work) or help me greatly.
Perhaps this is based on naivety and will wear out soon.
Who knows?! But every time I listen to a TED talk about change and doing good things, it makes me tear up a little.

What a long rant! What kindness have you done for someone lately?


  1. I love this post! It really is easy to get discouraged by reading the news and see how horrible the world can be. But there really are so many good people out there. They just don't get front page status. Thanks for sharing this today!

  2. Hey there! I was hoping you would stop by since I changed the title of my blog...easier to remember. I love this post btw and just had a day with the kindness of people. Check it out.

    Also, was in England visiting my friend again (yeah, i know...blush). I love it there and would move there if I could.

    Miss ya! Someday we need to meet.

  3. Well I got the good shoes and they never gave me that issue, but you could be right about the hills. I was running up the bridge. And that's when it started to hurt when I got on the bridge. Hmmmm.....

    Oh sweet. Let's make a plan to do a half together. Or there is a Marathon in Morocco. Just saying.

    And you name when you want to go skydiving and I will be there.

    Yes, my friends were awesome. I love them so much.