Even when I don’t feel like it, I smile at people. I hold doors open and will let the aggressive driver who is trying to pass everyone get in front of me. I’ve witnessed how a small act of kindness can change a day for someone. However, I’m not perfect. There are times when I am not as kind as I could be. There are days after hours of working with sick and dying individuals that I have little left to give the world.
Emily’s February 12 Months of Bliss Challenge was to focus upon kindness over negativity in the world. She encouraged participants to not take part in office gossip or social circles and to reflect upon how it felt. As I reflect back upon the month, I can say I feel I spent the time much as I do every month. I have never been one to actively be unkind or spread gossip. In fact, a friend recently discovered news about another and in the process learned I had been informed weeks earlier. I’m the friend who takes it seriously when I am asked to not tell anyone (and then I laugh when I go someplace and hear it from another). Secrets and confidences are a part of my professional and personal nature.
However, this challenge forced me to think about what one considered negativity or gossip. I work with a team of health care professionals that daily work and meet with families and patients from all walks of life. Family meetings are held, information is shared to the best ability possible and there are times when my team members are simply drained. They can’t think of another way to share information and in the privacy of our office there is venting about how someone doesn’t “get it”. There is frustration in meeting with a patient who has been admitted multiple times in a short time period and doesn’t see the need to make changes.
Many times, I act as the advocate and remind my team members that families and patients are in shock and it can take an average of 7 times for an adult to actual “get” what is being said. Equally, there are times when I validate their emotions and feel the pain right alongside of them. There are difficult people in this world and venting about the situation allows for reflection and stress reduction. Holding in frustrations creates stressed out health care providers.
From a social perspective, on occasion I will vent about a social situation. There’s also the occasion of commenting about what someone shouldn’t have worn (never to their face). Again, holding in of emotions can create stress and more problems. As I said, I’m not perfect but I do try to always see the good in the person.
This month’s challenge has allowed me to see that overall I do practice kindness more that negativity. There is always something good about someone – even those who are considered the most difficult. Perhaps that is my social work background in looking for strengths but I also feel that is my personality.
Do you find kindness difficult to practice?