Kindness Cards

“Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.”-Paramahansa Yogananda

Today I offered a barista a positive quote. So many times I do this without thinking, it can become routine. It’s been over six years that this has been on and off part of my life. I forget that I should actually take the time to describe the purpose behind this, when handing out these pseudo business cards. The barista inquired , “What is this? Why do you do this?”

I answered, “it’s simply a positive quote, with a website with positive stories. I do it because I appreciate it, and to do something more than say thank you. I know people don’t always show thanks or can even be rude, but kindness is contagious.” She responded with offering back her appreciation for this act, and further inquired “is it a hobby? Is it just you?” Yes and yes.

When people inquire, when I hand out the cards, I momentarily get embarrassed. I am not quite sure why. I am simply offering gratitude, it’s a little more than the10-15% tip. But when I do this, it takes me out of the normal robotic responses i give to strangers . I feel briefly I am exposing part of myself. It’s a vulnerable side, who deeply values humanity and acts of generosity. I want to break down a wall and form a genuine connection in a quick amount of time with someone I may never see again. I want to leave people with something small and tangible to make them know they are special and appreciated. An inspirational quote and a quirky picture of my dogs may bring a smile for a short amount of time. Wouldn’t I rather want to do this than the status quo or be rude?

Being kind to others does not take much time. It’s brief and the effects can have the potential to be long lasting. But the act of stepping out of your comfort zone can take effort. It requires a little more of you to offer a stranger a smile or intentional out of the ordinary words of thanks.

I’ve offered these cards to everyone from baristas, to celebrities, the homeless, protestors, special operation active duty members , family members, airline stewardesses, tsa agents, Uber drivers, physicians, and fellow clinicians. It doesn’t matter what status we have, or how much money we make, we all don’t receive enough genuine thanks for all that we do.

In Buddhism, there is a meditation practice called metta or loving kindness. In it we express kind thoughts to ourselves, others, those we may feel indifferent to, those we have ill feelings towards, and all of the world. It can be quite a powerful exercise. Below I am posting a link to a practice from Jack Kornfield’s webpage. Try it out, and see how it lands on you.

“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again. “-Og Mandino

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