Be kind.

It’s a simple phrase — a mantra consisting of two words.

We are encouraged to practice kindness from our mentors, on inspirational Instagram posts and on the t-shirts people wear when they go to yoga or Coachella.

One More Reason to Be Kind

Often, spreading kindness seems to be encouraged because of the residual effects it has on the recipient. When someone holds a door open for you, says “you look nice today,” or pays for your latte at Starbucks, it feels good.

But being the one that distributes the kindness feels pretty good too. While I’ve never expected anything in return for doing something nice, I’ve always felt a sense of warmth when I see how my act of kindness is received.

I was reminded of this recently when I had the opportunity to hand out a random act of kindness. It was a choice I made when I easily could have ignored the chance. It also did not yield any appreciation, but it still felt right.

Be Kind – Even When It Isn’t Earned or Recognized

It all started when I heard a buzzing sound inside my house. It was pretty loud. As I walked toward the noise, the volume increased, and there I saw it. It was a bee, crashing up against the window, clearly trying to find a way out.

I’ve never been a fan of bees. I’ve even had a couple of severe reactions to stings when I was younger. Without much hesitation, I grabbed a magazine and prepared to swat it.

I watched as the bee would buzz around for a few seconds, then come stop on the window for an equal number of seconds, and frantically start flying again. As it would come to rest, I rolled up the magazine, gripped it tightly and readied myself for a thunderous “whack.”

But then something came over me as I watched it walk around the window pane. It reminded me of the times I’ve been running up a hill or a mountain trail. On certain occasions, the climb would be too much, and I would stop, take a breath and slow the pace down, but I’d always get going again because I just wanted to get to the top of the hill or mountain.

This worker bee (I presume it was a worker bee) just wanted to get back outside and get back to work. I immediately felt guilty and realized I needed to help it get on with its life, rather than end it.

I found a small box and quickly placed it over the bee. I then yelled for my daughter to bring me a piece of cardboard and I slid it between the window pane and the box. Now, trapped in the box, I quickly made my way outside with the bee buzzing around the inside of this box and set it down on the ground.

As I got ready to open the box and set the bee free, I was slightly worried it would come right towards me.

I took a deep breath and knocked the cover loose.

As the bee rose from the box, there should have been a beam of light shooting skyward with a chorus singing “Hallelujah.” I watched as it flew straight up and away from me. Within seconds it was gone and out of my sight.

When Selfish Motives Work

I felt amazing.

The kind of amazing like when someone gives you that extra squeezy hug because of something nice you did for them, or that nod of appreciation you get from a person that acknowledges that you did something a little extra for them.

An insect certainly would have no way to show its appreciation toward me. But I had a little extra pep that day, seeing it outside, and knowing it was because I made the choice to help – to be kind.

It was then I was reminded of the importance of kindness. It has little to do with who we are kind to or what the act is.

All that matters is that we make it a point to practice it.

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash
Spreading kindness is typically encouraged because of the effects it has on the recipients. But what if we chose to be kind for a more selfish reason?