I don’t mean to sound wet (or like I have a limited vocabulary) but really, it is nice just to be nice. In fact, it’s more than nice – it’s really important if you care about people and their emotional health and well-being.
Today, when I was driving, I was waiting behind a parked car to let a bus go past. The driver of the bus thanked me for waiting and drove on. 4 cars followed the bus, and not one of them thanked me for waiting. Now, in all fairness, the highway code dictates that as the obstruction was on my side I needed to wait until they had passed before I could pull out. I had to wait – I wasn’t just doing it to be nice. But that’s not really the point. It would have taken virtually no time or energy on those other driver’s parts to raise their hand in thanks. And, if I had been having a bad day (/week/month/year) it might have been the thing that made the difference between them coping or not coping. One thing I’ve learnt since I became a Clinical Psychologist, is that you often have no idea what is going on in someone’s life, someone’s mind, someone’s feelings. A person may be really struggling and you just might not know. So, isn’t it worth being kind to them because it’s a good thing to do and because they may really need that kindness?
We also know that kindness is paid forwards, and there have been studies on this. So, if you thank someone they may go on to do some little, insignificant kindness to someone else which may make that other person’s day. Just think what a difference you could make to the world, with no extra energy. The butterfly effect with kindness or compassion being shared and passed on.