Returning Kindness

22 Aug

Recently while driving around completing some errands, I came upon a car stopped at a green light. I could see a white haired woman at the wheel, and I waited a moment before I tapped my horn to prompt her to drive forward. I was stunned when she looked at me in the rear view mirror and furiously lifted her middle finger at me flipping me off. It was so rude, and so unexpected. While she was still looking at me, I smiled and waved. She then hit the gas and took off. I’m pretty sure she was angry at me for blowing my horn – as evidenced by her indelicate response – but I have wondered how she felt after seeing me return her insult with a smile.

People do lots of things, and sometimes they don’t make the best choices. The woman in the car didn’t need to be rude to me for tapping my horn, but that was her choice. I could have returned an insult right back to her. I could have flipped her off, or just laid on my horn to annoy her. If I had done that, all I would have accomplished was to prove I could be as rude as she was. And I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to do something better, so I returned kindness for her behavior. I have wondered what she thought of that. Did she regret her actions after seeing my smile and wave, or did she just get more angry? I will never know. What I do know is that I chose what was best for me.

Choosing what is best isn’t always easy. It’s hard to be kind to someone who is being cruel. It’s hard to return consideration when someone is being mean, and it’s hard to be polite when someone is being rude. But we make our own choices, and determine our own paths. It’s easy to give back bad behavior when we get it. It doesn’t take much energy to send the negative and nasty right back over the net, but what does that bring us? If we want to be the best we can be, we need to set our sights higher. Anyone can be rude, hateful, and mean. That’s easy. Setting the goal to return kindness in the face of those things is hard, but it defines who we are. We set our own standards, and we can decide what we’ll do. If we set them according to what’s best for us instead of where someone else has put them, we can become the people we want to be. The choice is ours.

Today if someone is rude to you, if someone is mean to you, or if someone hurts you, before you respond think about choosing kindness. Return the behavior that most defines who you are. Reach higher, and choose what is best for you. You will never regret a good decision. Today, fill your day with them and you’ll be closer to the person you really want to be.

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