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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Gestures of Kindness

As a writer, I have a natural and often insatiable curiosity about people.

What motivates others to act the way they do? Say the things they do? I'm also intrigued by how other people see the world and each other.

Many years ago, I read a newspaper article that featured a homeless man. When asked what was the worst thing about living on the street, he didn’t answer what many of us would think the obvious - the cold - the hunger - the danger.

Nothing even close.

He said something along the lines of,  

“When people see me, they no longer see a human being. When folks toss money into my can, they never look me in the eye. I’m no longer worthy of a smile.”

Such a tiny gesture of kindness. A smile. A friendly, “Hello.” To be given the common courtesy of being looked in the eye. Treated like a fellow human being.

That stuck with me. The need to matter – to count as important. How hard is it look someone in the
eye?

I changed the way I treated those with their hands outstretched. I stopped judging and starting smiling. It made me look for the good in people.

All people.

I'm not perfect, nor do I ever aim to be, and I'm certainly not 100% at finding the good in people. Trust me, it can be a challenge. Sometimes I'm too cranky or self-involved with my own life to be the kind of person I want to be.

But, I'm trying. I'm still a work in progress, as we all are, really.

Has there been a moment, an event, in your life that made you change your viewpoint? 

I'd love to hear about it.


8 comments:

  1. Hi Jodi-
    This is so true, isn't it? We all get so involved in our busy lives we don't always take time to learn someone's reasons for acting a certain way. I love to see both sides of the story when I'm writing because it helps me identify the push/pull dilemma in my character's mind. I just finished the book ME BEFORE YOU, by JoJo Moyes and loved how she showed both sides to a very controversial subject. I never would have thought a certain way had I not read her book. (Don't want to give it away. It was a great book.) I hope you're doing well and Conner is finding new places to visit all over the US. Best, Michelle

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    1. Isn't writing amazing in that way? I'll have to check out JoJo's book. I'm always on the prowl for a new read.

      We're actually in the midst of our first print run, which is VERY exciting!

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  2. I work as a psych nurse so I get to hear a lot of the stories behind the behaviors. Let me tell you, after that, you judge no one.
    http://www.melanieshulz.blogspot.com

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    1. My mom is a social worker and counselor and she has always said to us, "Don't judge, you have no idea what that person may be going through." Wise words from both of you.

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  3. An event in my life that changed my viewpoint? Absolutely -- the birth of my son. As a writer, it was the moment writing friends took time out of their insanely busy days to give me feedback on a story. Amazing people. Also the times people made unnecessary comments -- I ignored them and it felt good.
    Yes, we are still very much works in progress.
    Great post.
    It's great to be here.
    Silvia @ Silvia Writes

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    1. Thanks Silvia. :)

      I'm going to zip over to your site and check it out!

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  4. Wow, this hurts because we all do it.

    I read in some parenting book that you should sit down so you're eye level with your child and look them in the eye to hear what they're saying. Make sure they know you have their full attention. Listen to what they have to say. Make them feel important, make them feel like what they're saying is the most important thing in the world at that time. It works.

    Then I thought, duh, this would work for everyone.

    Of course, when my son babbles on for the 27th pressing topic about how this Lego block is the bad guy and those stuffed animals are the big monsters ... well, there comes a limit. But try it for the first few times, it can do miraculous things.

    Bradley Charbonneau's Pass the Sour Cream A-Z Challenge.

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    1. You speak the truth, Bradley. Giving our kids the attention they need, making them feel important, sometimes is the biggest challenge we face. Reminds me of that song, The Cat and The Cradle.

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