This I Believe

Meaghan - Syracuse, New York
Entered on September 5, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Almost everyone is familiar with the phrase “random act of kindness,” describing an occasion in which a person does something nice for a stranger to cheer him or her up. It is a great idea, but why is a kind action considered such a marked occasion? Is being friendly to people so rare in our society now? I believe that the power of everyday kindness is greatly underrated and can really be a positive influence on peoples’ attitudes, no matter how cliché that may seem.

I believe in this philosophy so strongly simply due to personal experience. I love when someone gives me a warm smile, holds a door open for me if I walk into a building behind them, or helps me pick up something I accidentally dropped. Simple gestures like that make me feel better if I’m at all sad, angry, or frustrated. Even genuine politeness can have the same effect on my mood. “Pleases” and “thank yous” make me feel appreciated, just as a lack thereof can make me feel ignored or taken for granted.

One of the strongest memories I have of someone being sincerely kind to everyone they came into contact with is from my freshman year in college. In order to enter the dining hall in my building, an employee had to swipe every student’s ID card. Everyday, a woman named Irene would give each person a huge grin and ask “how are you?”, always addressing us by name. It was impossible for me, or anyone else I saw during mealtimes, not to smile back and share Irene’s sunny disposition.

Not only does it feel great when a person is kind to me, but I cheer up after being nice to someone as well because I’ve made a small difference in their day. I find it extremely difficult not to mirror someone’s mood after seeing them smile. I think attitudes are contagious, so being around friendly, appreciative people tends to make me feel the same way.

I know that it’s hard to be always nice to each and every person we come into contact with every moment of every day. I get frustrated with some people and have bad days just often much as the next person – I’m far from perfect. But I think that making an effort to try and act kindly to others when I can isn’t difficult, in fact, it can quickly become a habit. I believe that today’s society could greatly benefit from people simply being kind and polite to each other, practicing “regular”, instead of “random”, “acts of kindness.”