“Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.” This quote on kindness is one that best illustrates the lasting effects of what kindness does to humanity.Paramahansa Yogananda
As a ski instructor for children, I work with all sorts of behavior challenges. Kids seem to mask discomfort less effectively than adults, so it’s easy to see when they are cold, scared, in pain, hungry, or just downright not having fun. On one particular occasion, I was working with a group of kids and one of the children started to act out. He began spitting rude remarks, ignoring instructions, and retaliating in any way he could. After five years of working in this environment, I recognized that, at its most basic form, his needs were not being met. Did he deserve kindness if he was not being kind himself? Maybe. So I took him aside and tried an experiment.
I showered him with every ounce of security I could. I reassured him and beamed when his skis responded effectively to his movements. I encouraged him when he fell. And as we caught up with the rest of the class, I relaxed, smiled, and said, “go on your own until the bottom. Have fun with it. I’ll meet you there.”As the class weaved through trees, I saw his confidence grow. By the bottom, he was beaming as well. He quietly apologized for being unkind and thanked me for being his teacher.
Although this is an over-simplified example of kindness and behavioral psychology I know little about, I learned something that day. Kindness works. Despite the outcome. Had we gotten to the bottom and this nine-year-old boy still retaliated, kindness still would have worked. It was the peace I felt within me when I offered an ounce of security to someone in a new and uncomfortable situation. And despite the upset, I could still offer that joy to the other kids as well.
I often think that we are still like kids. We’re just better at hiding it. But our inner child needs healing and security, no matter how many decades it’s been since we were nine. And when someone offers a hug after a long day, a smile in the grocery store, or reassurance during frustrating moments, souls can be healed. Families can be healed. Nations can be healed. So whether they deserve it or not, be kind. Because you and everyone around you will be a beneficiary despite the outcome. What that benefit is? Healing. For the nine-year-olds still within us.