We are all cynical at times; it’s my belief that social media breeds cynicism.
If you are on Facebook or Twitter or even LinkedIn, you don’t have to scroll far to find a post similar to the one that showed up at the top of my Facebook feed this morning: “If people get mad when you raise your standards, it’s probably just because they didn’t make the cut.”
That’s pretty tame as far as cynical statements go, but it’s none the less not kind or compassionate.
Kindness is a value that is often disregarded. Why? In part, it’s because kind people may be viewed as “enablers” by some or as “suckers” by the cynical.
In the cynic’s view, success is only achieved through stepping on or ignoring others. Yet the cynic’s behavior rarely results in true happiness – the sense of feeling loved, that one’s true destiny and purpose are being fulfilled, that what you do matters in the most profound way.
Kindness is a behavior composed of selfless and compassionate actions, and it is inextricably linked to happiness and contentment. Over a decade ago, in a study of Japanese college students, researcher Otake discovered the link.
He and his colleagues found that, simply, happy people were kinder than people who were not happy. Their study also revealed that the simple act of counting your acts of kindness increases your sense of happiness, which seems to answer the “chicken or egg” question.
They extrapolated that acts of kindness increase happiness, most likely because they promote feelings of empathy and compassion, which in turn leads to a sense of interconnectedness with others.
Cynics notwithstanding, we are social beings, and we crave these feelings. So, I am going to work on recognizing my tendency toward cynicism and fight against it by consciously choosing acts of kindness. I’m going to let that other driver merge without having to win a drag race. I’m going to invite the shopper behind me to go first. I’m going to pay for the car behind me in the drive-thru. I’m going to purchase a $20 gift card and keep it in my purse until I feel the quiet urge to give it to someone who needs it.
Mother Teresa said, “We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love.”
Let’s look for opportunities to be kind and count our acts of kindness. We’ll reap the rewards almost immediately. The enormous bonus is that one small act of kindness can release an enormous chain of positive events. The miracle of kindness is that it is contagious.
Christina Pierce is publisher of The Pine Belt News and Signature Magazine.