September 7, 2016

Kindness: a 2-way Street



“Trolls”, bullying, road rage, and every other kind of disrespect abound in today’s world.  This is not good news for the victims, obviously. However, think about it: negativity doesn’t aid the perpetrator, either. It may accomplish an immediate goal of a grudging apology, a subdued child or “subordinate”, or a quieter room or house, but is that enough?

Is winning the battle but losing the war really worthwhile? What has really been gained? Only a short-term objective. The long-term consequences may include the following:
  • Resentment/Bitterness
  • Complete emotional disconnect
  • Simmering fear/anger (which could erupt at a later time)
  • Permanent loss of the relationship

Choose Courtesy

No matter how angry and upset people make us, we have the choice to not let it get to us. Now, hold on. Don’t get upset. I am not saying that being kind is always easy. It’s a lifelong learning process for some of us. It can be a huge hurdle.  In truth, it has taken me decades to become a softer, gentler person.

The biggest issue, for me, is that it doesn’t seem fair to respond to discourtesy with courtesy. So, why should we at least try to do it?

A Give and Take Situation

Actually, it’s not about fairness.  The most important reason to choose courtesy is that it aids the giver as well as the receiver. Unkindness adds darkness/negativity to both the provider and the recipient. We want to avoid that at all costs. On the other hand, kindness adds light/positivity to both sides. In the long run, both criticism and courtesy are two-way streets to either happiness or misery.

How, Exactly, Does Courtesy Benefit Us?

Kindness has a positive effect on our health. A Huffington Post article states that it helps us in the following ways:
  • Longer life
  • More happiness
  • Less stress
  • Higher serotonin levels

Courtesy boosts our relationships. According to an action for happiness.org article:
We receive what we give. In other words, we reap what we sow. (The Law of the Harvest.)
  • Our connections become stronger.
  • We build a wider support network.
  • We form cooperation, trust, and a sense of safety.

How has Positivity Boosted my Relationships?

I have much more peaceful, nurturing interactions since I began the most herculean battle of my life: spreading positivity.  The fact is that most people will try to return kindness for kindness. The payoff may not be immediate, but it will come:
  • Gratitude
  • Favors
  • A listening ear
  • Useful information

My Conclusion

Courtesy is a win-win situation. It doesn’t cost anything, but it can buy these things:
  • Peace of mind
  • Mutual Respect

“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”—Luke 6:31

Please see more about choosing courtesy in my book, Accept No Trash Talk: Overcoming the Odds.

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Have you chosen to be courteous today?