Monday, April 18, 2016

The Benefits of Kindness

Good evening, everyone...My apologies for keeping the blog dark for a bit. I have had about a million life decisions that needed to be made, on top of the normal "What do I want to be when I grow up?" crap and the traditional "What should I do with my company?" mumbo jumbo.

Not the smallest of which is that I am getting married in just over three weeks. Yay!

I was thinking about the fact that I have cashed in probably every favor in the world to keep this wedding under an already-minimal budget (which is why there is a cap to the number of people we invited...we chose a venue that maxes out at 95 people). I was thinking about some of the people in the periphery of my life who do not see kindness as a state of mind. In fact, I have a few glaring examples of people in my life who do not even see kindness as an advised practice. None of these people are close to me; I think kindness is one of the most attractive traits a human being can have, and the lack of kindness one of the most repelling traits by the same token. This post, then, is a reminder for most of us, and a tutorial for the rest of us.

This blog post is almost a repeat of a previous one, but it's an ever-important message. Be kind, always do the kindest thing, and accept kindness from others as if everyone equally deserves it (we usually do deserve it, anyway).

Why be kind?

Because the world does not have enough kindness. Don't believe me? Well, if the world had enough kindness, we would not be gushing thank-yous to our buddy when he or she buys us a popcorn at the movies. If it were less of a surprise, that would mean that we were closer to "enough" in this sense. Hopefully, we will never have enough kindness.

Because it feels good. Since kindness tends to be a slight surprise, the recipient of the kindness shows his or her gratitude fairly emphatically, no? Selfish, yes, but it feels really nice to hear someone burst with appreciation for something you did. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Because you can make a difference. Sometimes, people have bad days. Sometimes, people have bad weeks, months, eons...whatever. And you giving up your seat on the bus may feel like the only positive thing to have happened to someone all day, week, month, or eon. He or she may not know your name, but the rest of the day will be spent remembering the sweet stranger who gave up his or her seat on the bus.

Because it doesn't hurt. Nobody ever died of too much kindness. Nobody ever went broke from too much giving. Nobody ever depleted their own resources from sharing too much. Just do it.

Because it is easy. Kindness is a state of mind, and the running thread through the psyche is, "How can I give of myself today?" You do not have to write checks to charity that will bounce out your bank account. You can open a door for someone, compliment an outfit, buy a java for the person behind you in line, help someone across the street, hold an elevator, smile at someone and make eye contact, tell someone to have a nice day, give a kid a quarter for the gumball machine, put out a bird feeder and a bowl of water, sweep an elderly neighbor's front porch...

Because kindness begets kindness. It is a well-known fact that kindness is contagious. See, people like to feel good. When someone makes them feel good, they in turn want to make someone else feel the same way. It's why "pay it forward" is a reality; when you have more than you previously had, often times you want to share it to help others. Those people being helped will remember your kindness, and they will be kind to others because they now know how good it feels. It is the best vicious circle in the world.

Why am I bringing this up now?

Well, I am not exactly known as a complainer. I try to fix my broken crap before I need help from others, and if I have to ask for help, I will catalogue in my head and do anything I can to pay the person back. I also dance to songs at work, sing while pouring coffee, ask customers how their kids are doing, and basically treat everyone like they matter (to the best of my ability). As a result, this wedding is a huge cash-in of favors, but it is also just people returning kindness they have received from me, a few of which were because I mentioned the one or two glitches we have hit:

I knitted a hat for a customer to replace a ratty one she occasionally wore, and she is thanking me by doing my hair for the wedding.
I mentioned to a guy who gets an Americano every day that my previous photographer and I are no longer speaking, and he offered to photograph the wedding.
A dear knitting friend is officiating the ceremony.
My big brothers (some biological and some honorary) are setting up and taking down chairs for the ceremony.
My mom is throwing parties, decorating, and basically keeping me as girly as possible.
Erik's friend is playing music for us.
And for the very, very few people who are not welcome, we have both a lookout and a rented crocodile.
The engagement ring was a trade-in of other jewelry, and a favor from Dad's jeweler.

I could have done the big nightmare again, with a banquet hall and a DJ and a bunch of strangers I would have to pay, but why? The wedding is already intimate, but kindness is what is making it feel like family, even for people who are not related by blood. I am of course paying some of these people, but I would much prefer my money to go to people I trust, who want to do their best for me.

Kindness. Try it. You will like it, I guarantee.

Oh...and this is the Eros Drifters Vertical Top pattern by Plymouth yarns. The yarn is Jacques Fonty and Wendy. I think I will wear this to my bridal shower...fresh off the needles (and I actually CROCHETED the arm holes!).