When the holiday season comes around, I see so many commercials about the importance of practicing kindness during the holiday season. And every year, I am saddened by the fact that showing people buying each other cars or diamond earrings is a sign of kindness and Christmas spirit.
Why do we only place importance on being kind during the holiday season? Corporate america paints kindness as gift giving, buying more and more just to gain profit. Kindness is more than that. Kindness is sharing a laugh with someone who has struggled, hugging a stranger, and so much more. During the holidays, kindness is inviting your single friend without family to your christmas gathering, or donating your time to the shelters or soup kitchens. It is not buying, it is thoughtfulness.
I recently saw a cashier at Publix who was working together with a special needs teenager who recently got his job as a grocery bagger (kudos to you, Publix, for putting your money where your mouth is and actually employing special needs workers). The cashier was so short and rude and annoyed with the bagger, that I could not focus on anything she was saying. He was clearly struggling with her speed of ringing up supplies, but instead of taking a deep breath and aligning with him (we all get annoyed, I get it), she just barked out orders. I was sure to be friendly considerate and patient with the gentleman, and I could see that he was relieved that I didn't match the cashier's attitude.
On my way home, I couldn't get the way she treated him out of my head. Why do we make excuses to be rude to other people when they have been nothing but kind to us? I work in customer service and I have heard countless customers yell at my coworkers, followed by "I'm sorry, I've just had a rough day." How is that an excuse to be rude to another human being? Don't let your busy and stressful days let you treat another human being like they are below you. Reflect on a time when someone was rude to you for absolutely no reason. Most people, when faced with an unpleasant situation, either lash back out or fall into a puddle of sadness. I know that I am guilty of this, and I let a random person ruin my whole day. I have been harassed by people I do not even know online, I have had coworkers point out my pimples or tell me I don't look good. So, knowing that you can affect another human being like this, why choose to push out negative energy? Don't tell people to be less sensitive, don't tell them just to get over it. It is your words and actions that affect people, and taking responsibility is the most important step.
You should not just practice kindness when it is the holidays, or when it is convenient for you. Help a neighbor in January. Cook a meal for a friend in February. Volunteer in the middle of July. Being a nice human shouldn't come with conditions attached, it should be a way of life.
Practice kindness no matter where you go. Everyone is fighting their own battles.