Lately, I’ve been thinking of kindness in that way — how it spreads from person to person, with the potential to light up the world.
Over the last 30 years, I’ve been listening to people’s stories — the stories of their lives, and of what has caused them to be the way they are. Everyone has these stories of events from their past that caused them either unhappiness or happiness.
One thing I’ve learned in all this time is that we affect one another, and the way we treat others matters.
There’s no getting around the cruel fact that the actions of people we’re raised with matter. Some parents are loving, supportive, and kind, but then there are those who are cruel or even abusive. The words of such parents can have a lasting impact, with statements like “I wish you’d never been born,” or “You’ll never amount to anything.” This can become part of a playlist that their children return to again and again throughout their lives because it’s incredibly difficult to change to a different soundtrack when one is so embedded into our subconscious.
Something that has surprised me over the years is that I have known people who went through incredibly difficult childhoods, and they have turned out beautifully. We might look at this outcome as being seemingly miraculous. How did they do it? How did they end the cycle of pain?
This is a topic I have explored with close attention for decades, and what I have found is that love makes its mark in people’s lives. When people who have had challenging upbringings turn out helpful, loving, and kind, I believe we are seeing ripples of a loving presence that made its mark on their lives, perhaps outside of the home.
I really believe that no matter how challenging our young lives were, someone probably loved us unconditionally. Someone showed us unconditional kindness, even in the darkest of hours. It could be anyone. Are they angels? Are they beings that were sent to help us? Whatever they are, they’re with all of us, and the spark of their loving kindness passes on and on.
I’ve never found anyone who didn’t have someone in their lives who showed them some kindness, some love, even when it seemed like everyone else in their lives was cruel to them.
Here’s what I know about kindness: It has a ripple effect. The love of a single kind, angelic presence can issue from them in wave after wave after wave, washing over and through us and continuing on to touch those in our path. For some, even with the horrible things that are happening in their lives, they are able to take this kindness and turn it into something beautiful.