Kindness Wins, Really

Helping and being kind and loving to others also has a positive effect upon us.

Posted Oct 11, 2015

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Recently when I was driving, I pulled over at a local gas station to fill up my tank. I went inside the station and gave the gentleman behind the counter twenty dollars before going out to pump my gas. When I had finished, I noticed that I had been erroneously given thirty dollars worth of gas instead of twenty. I immediately went back inside and handed the man another ten dollars, explaining the situation. He looked astonished and thanked me profusely. As I drove away, I thought about what had occurred. I asked myself why the gas station attendant was so surprised that I had walked back in and given him that extra ten dollars. And I asked myself, “Why did I do that?” My experience at the gas station on that day inspired this article about the benefits of being kind, honest, and loving to others.

I am not going to explore the typical rationalities for my behavior, the ones you have undoubtedly heard many times over, such as, “You ought to behave justly because God is looking over your shoulder” or “You ought to behave honorably because this is what your parents taught you.” The truth of the matter is I didn’t act for any such reason. Indeed, my thought process was much simpler.

What would I want to happen if our roles were reversed, if I were working at that gas station? As a gas station attendant, if I mistakenly gave a customer ten dollars of gas for free, I might get into trouble with my boss over the discrepancy. I could even lose my job! If I did lose my job from my oversight, I might not be able to get another one in this sluggish economy. In the end, I would be so very glad the customer came back and gave me that ten dollars!

This anecdote clearly illustrates that it makes perfect sense to treat others as you would like to be treated. The gas station attendant could have lost his job because of a simple error. As he was a middle-aged man, he was surely supporting a family and most likely was just barely getting by. Judging by his thankfulness when I came back in, who knows what repercussions he could have faced if I hadn’t been so honest? The obvious benefit of being kind, honest, and loving to others is to affect positively those around us.

In another way, on a deeper level, helping and being kind and loving to others also has a positive effect upon us. As we proceed through life, we expect others to treat us in the same manner in which we treat them. If we treat others in a loving, kind, and honest way, we expect the same from them in return. This is how I view life. I try to treat others with honesty, kindness, and respect, and I expect the same back from them. Of course, I don’t always get back in return that which I put forth, but I see this as an anomaly. When this happens, I think to myself, “This person is probably just having a bad day or going through a rough time, and I don’t need to judge him or her. I just hope things are better for him or her in the future.”

Because I live my life this way, I really do expect others to treat me as I treat them. For example, if I accidentally leave my wallet, keys, or some other personal item at a public place, such as an airport or mall, I expect it to be there when I get back or for someone to have turned it in. And this is usually the case—my misplaced item is almost always returned or waiting in the same spot for me. In truth, this doesn’t happen 100 percent of the time. However, I try not to worry about those few times when I don’t get my item back. When I am not reunited with my item, I think to myself, “That’s how life rolls. Sometimes we lose things, but most of the time things turn out pretty well.” Because I sincerely try to treat others well, this positive energy that I put out comes back to me more often than not.

I’m not deluding myself. Things might be stolen from me, and people might be dishonest to me. But neither happens that often to me, and I simply don’t waste a lot of time and energy thinking about it. I honestly think that people are mostly like me, and so I expect people to treat me kindly in return. Because I see life this way, this is how I experience it. If I go to the store and the clerk is somewhat rude, I just say, “Hmm, he must be having a bad day. Maybe I can do something to make it better,”  and sometimes I can. Of course, sometimes I can’t, but that’s just how life is. The important thing is that I’m not going to let another person’s bad day ruin my day. That would be silly! I’d much rather have a good day, keep positive, and be happy.

If we treat others in a kind, loving way, then we can expect others to treat us similarly and we can increase our chances of being happy. Of course, other people will not always reciprocate our positive energy, but our expectations will increase the odds of it happening. We’ll begin to be attracted only to those people who treat us similarly. With time, we’ll start surrounding ourselves with kind, loving, and honest people.

If someone were to cheat me or to be dishonest with me, I would say, “Well, that’s too bad.” Rather than dwelling upon the situation or letting the negativity ruin my day, I would take it as a learning opportunity, and in all likelihood, would cease to socialize with the person. As I go through life, I expect people to be honest, kind, and loving. I am more surprised when they don’t act this way. I expect other people to be honest, kind, and loving and this usually makes my day and my life go pretty well.

There are many benefits of being kind, honest, and loving to others. You never know what the full effect of the kindness you show towards others may be. One of my favorite sayings is, “If you pull a blade of grass, the entire universe shakes.” We can never predict what will happen when we reach out to others with kindness and love. Our actions might produce truly extraordinary results. If we’re going through our day reaching out with kindness, love, and honesty, we may indeed be shaking the entire universe.

When we act with honesty, kindness, and love, then we will begin to expect the people around us to do the same. Because of this, we’ll start surrounding ourselves with people who are honest, kind, and loving, even in new situations. Life will begin to flow much better. Life won’t be so much, “My dukes are up. Don’t get too close, to me or I’ll punch you,” but instead will be more like, “I love you. I sure would like to give you a hug.”

Be loving, kind, and honest to other people, and see how most people reciprocate with positivity and how your life flows much better.