“How To Live Well With Chronic Pain and Illness” Chapter 9 Summary: “Cultivating Kindness”

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

-Maya Angelou

This chapter is all about being kind. She says that kindness is a universal form of communication. We so often direct negative judgment toward ourselves. People with chronic illness (I’m speaking for all of us here, as an assumption,) definitely tend to do this. “Why does my body hate me?” “Why can’t I do things like I used to?” “I hate living this way.” etc etc etc.

But just imagine what it would feel like, if instead, we treated ourselves with the constant kindness that we so often show others. If we can be friendly to others, we should be friendly to ourselves as well.

She goes on to talk about how the mind is flexible and changeable. In order to get us all to start cultivating kindness, the author share in this chapter some of her favorite quotes on kindness:

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.”
-Kahlil Gibran

When we extend kindness to someone else, it helps take us out of our own minds and away from being preoccupied with our own problems.

“Kindness is within our power even when fondness is not.”
-Samuel Johnson
This quote I think is even more relevant in today’s world. Where we may not all agree with one another, we can still be kind. Even though we may not find another person easy to get along with, we can still show compassion.

“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
A Streetcar Named Desire
We with chronic illness can definitely relate to this one. We may find ourselves in situations where we have to rely on a stranger or acquaintance to help us if we are not feeling physically well enough to do something ourselves.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
-Aesop

Every. Drop. Counts.

The author ends the chapter with this powerful quote by Henry James:

Three things in human life are important: first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.

 

#HAWMC Day 3: There’s No Such Thing As A Small Act Of Kindness

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Scott Adams

 

A smile to the person passing you by. A note to a stranger telling them to have a good day. Offering to help someone carry their bags to their car. Little acts of kindness such as these, are actually not so little at all. When you act kindly, you inspire others around you to act kindly as well. No act of kindness is too small. The positive effect that you can have on someone’s day should be reason enough to act kind. Just think about the bad days you’ve had yourself. Doesn’t it make your super crappy day just a little bit better when someone does or says something kind to, even if it’s just a compliment or offering to do a small favor for you? Having kindness sent your way can completely turn your day around. Therefore, when you spread kindness to someone else, you have to the potential to completely turn their day around as well.

There are a couple of places that I like to turn to when I want to hear positive stories about people being kind: The Bobby Bones Show and the Love What Matters podcast (which is run by Amy from The Bobby Bones Show.” The Bobby Bones show promotes pimpin joy, which means when you spread joy and kindness to someone else, they are likely to spread that joy and kindness to another someone else, and so on and so forth. They always encourage people to do something kind for someone, and their stories of real people doing so always bring a smile to my face. In fact, they have something called Joy Week, where they do things to spread joy every single day of the week and share those things with their listeners. The Love What Matters podcast does something similar. It shares incredible and positive stories about people just like you and I. Most of the time, those stories include someone doing something kind for someone else.

Always remember: there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act of kindness will help someone in ways you may never believe.

Let’s be kind to one another.

random-act-of-kindness

Be Kind, For Everyone Is Fighting A Battle Of Their Own 

When you’re walking down the street and breeze by the people moving past you, how often do you glance up at the faces that are blurring by? How often do you take the chance to look a stranger in the eyes and really try to read their story? There’s a story behind every face you see, each one unique and different than the story walking beside them.

Stories are more often than not, unpredictable. We don’t know who the characters are until we get to know them. We don’t know when the plot twists will turn up. We can’t know in advance if or when an antagonist will make an appearance, short lived or prolonged. There’s no telling when the happy ending will wrap everything up and tuck us snugly into bed.

Every person you come across has something they’re not sharing, some battle they’re facing, some story they’re a part of that we as outsiders, have no insight on. You see, life isn’t fair. It throws us curveballs we swing and miss at, it throws us off our paths, it presents the unexpected and its hardships discriminate against no one. 

As someone with a story of your own, the human and compassionate thing to do, is to be kind to every person you meet because you have no idea what phase of their story that they’re in.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I’m battling daily chronic headaches, narcolepsy and chronic pain that has yet to be diagnosed. There is a constant pounding within my skull that strangers I see would have zero reason to expect me to be feeling. With my chronic migraine headaches along with my other medical mysteries comes anxiety issues, emotional lows creating a hermit like version of myself, unnecessary guilt, frequent frustration and so much more that I choose to hide either behind a smile or under my covers.

Even though I surround myself with people who are loving, kind, compassionate, generous, supportive and reliable, it’s just a fact of life that I will stumble upon people every once in a while who are less than kind to me. I’m only human and can’t help but make a sour face when sour words or thoughts are tossed my way. But I always turn back and tell myself that it’s the right thing to do to give that person the benefit of the doubt. They don’t know me. They don’t know my battles, my fights and my journey. They haven’t been given the book to start reading my story.Just like I don’t know their battle and their journey. Perhaps they are facing an uphill battle and are having a bad day filled with frustrations. So even if they may not have thrown the kindness my way, it’s all I can do to throw it back their way.

We’ll never understand what someone may be going through unless they open up to us about it. I promise you though, that any and everyone you meet is facing a battle that you know nothing about. All you can do, is be kind and show them the love you know that they need to keep fighting whatever battle that they’re up against.