Choose Kindness Over Judgement
by Dawn Helms
We have all been there at one time or another: Sitting in a restaurant trying to have a nice dinner with your family, and sitting at the table next to you is a couple with two children. One of them is around two years old, and the other clearly around ten or eleven years old. You hear fussing and fumbling from their table that is getting progressively louder, and the disruption is coming from the older child. It is beginning to become annoying and you are uncomfortable watching this meltdown. You ask yourself, “Why are the parents not just leaving?”, or, “Why are they letting that child get away with that! I would never do that.” You scoff, judge and try to hurry through your dinner as quick as you can so that you can leave and not have to watch another minute of this scene.
What you don’t know about this family is that the oldest child has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder which cause him to have issues with certain foods, textures, fabrics etc. and any one of those things could be happening to cause that meltdown beside you. The mother and father were trying to figure out what the trigger was in order to defuse the situation and enjoy their dinner as well.
What do you think would have happened if instead of casting judgment on the family beside you in the restaurant, if you gave a smile to the mom who was looking at you apologetically while trying to sooth her son? A simple act of kindness like a smile or a nod can go a long way.
All too often people are quick to judge another person based on things that they do not immediately understand. If something is outside someone’s comfort zone of ideals, people are quick to try and rationalize why things are the way they are to make themselves feel comfortable. You try to prove it with reasons like, “She must eat way too much to be that size.”, “That child must walk all over his/her parents. So spoiled!”, “How could she be with him. He must have money.” You have heard it, or maybe hard yourself saying some of these things at one point or another. Maybe it is a medical problem, maybe it’s Autism or another disability, or maybe it is love. Those could very well be the correct answers.
Opening a door for someone with a bit too much in their hands, not contributing to the gossip about a stranger, asking someone how they are and listening to an answer – all of these things can turn someone’s day around, and promotes understanding and empathy for our community. The impact that one of these acts can have upon a person is often underestimated.
It can be discouraging when you smile at someone and they don’t offer you a smile in return. Opening a door for someone and not having them say a word of thanks to you can be disheartening. Offering to help someone carrying a large load in front of you may not be received as you thought it would. Everything cannot go as we expected it to, and it is those expectations that feed negative feelings inside. If you attempt to live your life as a kind person, you just do those things for that reason, not for the “Thank You”, not for the kudos, not for the smile back. You do them for the simple act of kindness. Do not let the reactions of others change who you are inside. If you are kind, simply be kind for kindness sake.
There is way too much negative energy in this world, and it could use a little dose of sunshine. Why not start with changing your mindset and have that change start within you? You will feel great inside, and you may just change someone’s mood, bad day or even life with your one act of kindness.
What will you change today that will spread kindness and understanding?