Walking out of my office today, I bumped into a co-worker who has been trying to help me resolve a particularly tricky release of funds. It’s been going on for a while now and I knew that it had her feeling a bit frazzled. So I said thank you. That’s the standard thing to do right…saying thank you? Well, based on her response, I guess not.
“Nobody ever says thank you to me. Thank you!” Came the softly spoken words as she smiled her way into the elevator.
Her reaction really got me thinking.
We’ve all heard that kindness is not only good for the recipient, but also for the one delivering the kind words or gesture. Studies have shown that being kind not only decreases stress levels, but that it increases our lifespan. There are countless motivational talks, memes, messages encouraging us to engage in random acts of kindness. But more often than not, we simply don’t.
I think part of the reason is that we tell ourselves that being kind takes time. And time, we also convince ourselves, is best spent using the currency called ‘Busy’. Because Busy will help us reach deadlines before they sink their teeth into our fleeing heels; quick glances at the showreel of our Facebook timeline a good way to spend the time that busy buys us, especially at quiet moments during a meeting and the fleeting time we do ‘devote’ to others is often spent comparing our busyness balance sheets.
I think it’s gotten so bad that we don’t even realise when we are being unkind. Both to ourselves and to others.
What if we decided to view time differently?
What if we acknowledged that there is no such thing as finding time, but rather focus on making space. Making space for affirming someone’s worth by looking them in the eye when speaking to them. By saying thank you, especially for the little things. By listening quietly when someone else is speaking, without interruption, especially when the voice speaking is a soft one. By asking for an opinion that differs from your own.
I’ve started meditating every morning. It helps remind me that while I don’t have the power to stop time, I do have the power to make space for 15 quiet minutes every day. It reminds me that if I can make that sort of space for myself, I can definitely do the same to allow for some kindness to be withdrawn from my bank of busyness, to be deposited into someone else’s account.