Encouraging Kindness

I’ve written before about kindness, and I will likely do so a lot. I’ll write poems, essays, and even books on it if I have to because kindness is such a simple yet powerful force in this world we share. So in today’s entry, I want to talk about how important it is to encourage others when they act with kindness.

To do so, I’m going to talk about something that happened to me recently. I generally prefer not to harp on my own experiences, but I felt that this particular situation was simple enough and demonstrated my point in such a way that I’m inclined to share it.

I enjoy playing sports and will for the rest of my life, but people can get really heated in competition; it’s just human nature. Even if a game doesn’t matter a lot, there’s something about putting your heart into something that can make you a little crazy when things don’t go well. With that in mind, consider the below letter I received after a particularly heartbreaking loss that my football team endured.

The details of that game are as follows: there was a new official who took part in that game and really struggled with a number of decisions. My teammates therefore became extremely disheartened–angry might actually be a better word–as some unfortunate calls turned the end of the game against us. Twice we should have won the game, yet based on calls that were made, we instead endured two overtimes until I threw the game-losing interception.

Some people were extremely upset, and all the while this particular official received a great amount of ire. I felt for her, though I myself was upset, so after the game I went over just to tell her that everything was okay in my book, that people just get heated sometimes. I then thanked her for officiating and that was it. The end.

I’m not saying all this to focus on what I did, which I felt was simply the right thing to do in the moment, but rather on the letter itself. Within a couple days I had forgotten the whole matter, but the letter reminded me a week later not that I had done something nice, but that it had perhaps meant something. Maybe the other referee noticed, or perhaps the referee I had talked to had made mention of it. For whatever reason, I got the letter.

I genuinely appreciated what was written, not because I was being recognized but because it made me feel that my being kind actually mattered. It made me that much more likely to do it again in a difficult situation because I got evidence that being kind can make a difference.

In life, the right thing to do is often hard, but that is what Christ asks of his disciples. He taught, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12). In that same vein, I would encourage you to express appreciation for the kind acts of others. They don’t have to be things people did for you. Just anything you see.

Notice the good things happening in the world around you and nourish them, even if you didn’t plant the seeds.

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