February has been known to some, especially retailers, as the month of love because of one specific day. So, now that the Valentine’s Day flowers have wilted and the chocolates are all eaten, it’s time to shift our mindset from not-so-random acts of loving kindness for someone close to us to those not so known to us.
It’s not always easy to shift our thoughts to the wellbeing of others when the needs of those close to us are the understandable and realistic priority. This shift is even more difficult when we are struggling to focus outside of ourselves because it takes all your energy to just do the things that need to get done.
But the research shows that focusing on someone outside of ourselves through random acts of kindness, provides a perspective on the world outside of our own. Think of it as a micro break from our own concerns and worries that fill our own mind and to focus our energy outside ourselves.
Random acts of kindness don’t have to be some sort of grandiose gesture, though they can be. It can be as simple as picking up something someone dropped when you see they’re struggling to bend over, holding the door for someone, saying thank you, or letting someone merge (gulp) on I-4. It takes just a moment and more often than not, won’t even affect your schedule.
Random acts of kindness could be as simple as calling a friend when you see something that reminds you of them to let them know you’re thinking of them, picking up your friend’s favorite soup when they aren’t feeling well while you’re already at the grocery store, or by talking to someone on an airplane that looks nervous to fly as a distraction.
In a world where it feels like kindness has gone by the wayside or isn’t at the forefront of our thoughts, a little kindness helps add a little grace and faith to those around you and to yourself.
Recently, I had finished a long busy day and was waiting for my takeout order at a restaurant. The place was packed but I could tell that while the staff was doing their best, though a bit overwhelmed. There were several other people ahead of me that were waiting for their food. I looked around and noticed that no one was getting upset. Each one of us got our food along with a smile and sincere apology. It was nice to see the kindness as each one of us reassured the waitstaff we understood they were doing their best. So, we all sat patiently, waited our turn, and one at a time expressed our gratitude to the staff for continuing to be kind in a difficult situation. My order was the last one and as it was handed to me, I was told “Man, all of you were so kind. It just doesn’t feel like that happens much now-a-days.” I thanked him and headed on my way.
As I was driving home, those words continued to resonate in my head. I was glad kindness prevailed and despite the feeling that kindness has become the exception not the rule, each one of us can do our small part to change that by adjusting our mindset to focus our energy, however briefly, on kindness to others. I know it made me feel good to take a break from thinking about my stressors of the day by being kind and grateful to a random restaurant worker.
Is stress making it difficult to be kind or to see the kindness around you? JFS therapists are here to help you focus on the bigger picture. Call (407) 644-7671 or complete our online form to request an appointment today.. Telehealth counseling is available. Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurances accepted, and a sliding fee scale for those who do not have insurance.
Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW is the Clinical Director and a licensed clinical social worker at JFS Orlando. Ashlyn has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient community based mental health, inpatient/admission psychiatric hospital, substance abuse/DUI, dialysis/medical, and in home/office outpatient therapy.
Each month, JFS Orlando’s Beyond the Counseling Couch tries to provide you with timely and relevant advice to help you along your wellness journey. Are there any topics YOU would like us to cover? Let us know your ideas or questions! Email JFS Clinical Director, Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, at Ashlyn@JFSorlando.org or comment below.