When it’s cold or raining outside, I help with dismissal at work. I go outside and help make sure that kids get safely and quickly to their cars. I might get cold or wet-or both. My hair might get messed up. But really, it’s not a big deal; it’s part of my job. One recent morning, my boss gave me a bag of caramel corn as a thank-you for helping with dismissal.
It’s not a big deal. I don’t mind going outside for a short amount of time to help the kiddos. Yes, my fingers or toes might get cold. My hair might get messed up. But I don’t really mind it. Who cares what my hair looks like after 3pm? I can put it in a ponytail or messy bun.
The thing that struck me is the act of thanking me. This is a situation where it really is the thought that counts. A bag of caramel corn is a simple way of saying “Hey, I noticed that thing that you did.” It’s important to acknowledge people when you notice them doing something.
This is something that I’ve been thinking about lately. It’s important to acknowledge people. Thanking people who help you, acknowledging people who work in stores-these things are important. At some point in my early twenties, I started making a point of saying “You too” to every person who said “Have a nice day” to me. Next, I started meaning it. And then, I started saying it to people who hadn’t said it to me. I’m no better or worse than the people who stock shelves at Target. People who make drinks at Starbucks are doing something for you. Yes, they’re getting paid for it, but they’re doing a service for you.
It’s important to treat people with respect and dignity. We need to make a habit of noticing other people. One of the things that I’ve really learned in the past few months is how easy it is to get focused in our own worlds and ignore the world around us. It’s easy to ignore or shut out people who disagree with us. It’s easy to overlook people.
But if we want to make the world a better place, we need to treat people better. We need to be more respectful of other people. Sometimes, that just means asking someone how they’re doing or wishing them a good day. If we treat others with intentional kindness, we will contribute to making the world a better place. And that’s what will really change the world-small acts stemming from genuine kindness.
Let’s do that. Let’s live with genuine kindness. Let’s make the world a better place.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
-St. Teresa of Calcutta