Insights: Simple Acts of Kindness

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Life can be very confusing at times—even tragic, sad and hard to understand. Maybe it’s a divorce, the loss of a love, death, health issues, harm caused by another person.

Yet life can also be wonderful where the kindness of others gives us hope, joy and purpose. Rather than looking at what we can get from people, it is of great consequence to look at what we have to offer.

After finishing a hike in Crystal Cove State Park recently, my friend and I decided to stop at Settebello restaurant in Crystal Cove Shopping Center for a pizza. There was a young woman in her mid-20s seated alone next to us reading a book, so we started up a conversation.

What a wonderful young woman. First, she was reading a book, which seems rare these days. Second, she told us she was not on social media.  Third, she knew how to have a conversation. And last, she liked desserts, a woman after my own heart.

While talking she shared how she had recently broken off a relationship. Her attitude was amazing, even though it had been difficult. This comes back to how our attitude is key to managing challenges. She picked up the pieces and moved her life forward.

While we were enjoying this woman’s company, our bartender, Devon, kindly joined in our conversation and, because it was “National Women’s Day,” offered us a glass of champagne.  Kindness attracts kindness. While just expecting a yummy pizza, we ended up with a fun evening with a great conversation and a glass of champagne.  We attract what we are, not what we want. If you want kindness, be kind.  We mirror back what comes towards us.

When life is tough we tend to become defensive and shut down. We put up our boundaries and go into self-preservation. Yet, it is when life is toughest that we need to be the kindest, not just to others, but also to ourselves.

One of my favorite examples of this is from Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” where he talks about even when people were so hungry, some people were still willing to share their bread even though they were hungry themselves.

This leads me to a wonderful woman I just met. Her name is Michelle and at age 11 she had a stroke and lost the use of her right side. She suffered another stroke and many difficult treatments. Yet in meeting her, she has the best attitude about life. In fact, this is seen through a book she wrote called, “All We Have is Today,” which will be the next book I read.

Michelle works in hospice. Here is a woman who could be focused on her own challenges and yet she is focused on helping and being kind to others.  Viktor Frankl wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

This is the choice Michelle made for herself. We have that same choice to make.

Victor Frankl continues on to say “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Remember that we always have a choice to be kind, even when life is difficult.

Piero Ferruci, an Italian psychotherapist, wrote in his book “The Power of Kindness,” that “it may strike us as absurd to even approach the subject: our world is full of violence, war, terrorism, and devastation. And yet life goes on precisely because we are kind to one another. No newspaper tomorrow will tell of a mother who read a bedtime story to her child, or a father who prepared breakfast for his children, of someone who listened with attention, of a friend who cheered us up, of a stranger who helped us carry a suitcase.  Many of us are kind without even knowing it. We do what we do simply because it is right.”

It is the simple act of kindness that makes the world a good place, even with all its tragedies.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].


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