By: Ronda Nissley
Encompass Connection Center Co-Director
Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty – Anne Herbert, 1982
I am one of those people that can become so focused on my calendar and my “to do” list that I lose sight of other people as human beings. After all, I have important things to do and deadlines to meet. Please don’t get in my way or slow me down! I am constantly at war with time. It’s easy for me to become impatient with others that don’t fulfill my expectations.
Several weeks ago, I was leaving the hospital after visiting my dad. Feeling the fatigue and stress of supporting an ill loved one, I stopped at the hospital coffee shop to get a cup of coffee. At the cash register was a sign that read “cash only” and directed me to a nearby ATM. Feeling somewhat exasperated – as in urge to hurl that sign across the room - I excused myself from the line to get some cash. Then the gentleman behind me stepped up and said, “let me pay for her coffee.” That simple $3 act of kindness by a total stranger touched me deeply.
As I reflected on the profound impact that simple gesture had on me, I was challenged to find ways to be kind and to “pay it forward.” What if I took those feelings of impatience and exasperation as a cue to “be kind”? What would that look like? What would it look like to “shower kindness” on someone else? Here are a few suggestions:
· Express sincere gratitude
· Leave a generous tip for a service worker
· Let someone in line ahead of you
· Pay for the person behind you in a drive through line
For your loved one:
· Express sincere gratitude
· Ask them what they need from you today
· Learn their love language* (if you don’t know) and consciously seek to “fill their love tank”
· Offer to do one of their chores (or just do it)
· Plan a “date night”
What are some ways you practice “Showers of Kindness?”
It’s easy to get impatient with that new store clerk that is having trouble ringing up my purchase. It’s easy to get impatient with that service worker that is taking longer than necessary to respond to my simple request. It’s easy to get impatient with my spouse or other loved ones that put dirty dishes beside the sink, drop clothes on the floor or leave us the vehicle on empty. (Disclaimer – this, of course, is rhetorical and not my spouse or family members!)
Do you want to shower someone with kindness? Fill up their "love tank!" According to Dr. Gary Chapman every person has a "love tank" that is filled up when others "speak their love language". Encompass Connection Center offers a free survey to help couples determine their love languages. What are yours?
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.