Kindness is a practice.
About 6 years ago, I was on a plane next to a woman who was relentlessly energetic and fidgety. I was tired and wanted to take a nap. But before I could go into “ignore mode,” she tapped me on the shoulder to introduce herself.
“Hi, my name is Helga!”
We got to talking and eventually it came up that I had started an organization in high school called R.A.K.E. (Random Acts of Kindness, Etc.). As I described what we did, Helga got very serious and told me that she thought “there was nothing more important in the world than Kindness.” I was curious why she was so passionate and, as the plane took off, she dove into a story about the last time she had flown; it was 3 years past and she was en route to Arizona because she had gotten sudden news her Dad’s health was on the decline. Just as the plane was about to depart to Phoenix, her father’s physician called to inform her that her dad had rather suddenly passed away. For the 3 hour plane ride, she sat in stunned silence around strangers.
When she arrived to the airport in Arizona, she walked to the nearest wall, sat down, and cried.
And here is the part I’ll never forget about Helga’s story. For 2 hours she sat and wept while thousands walked to and fro in the airport. Helga looked at me and said, “Houston, not a single person stopped and asked if I was okay that day. Not one person. It was that day that I realized how much we need each other. It was that day I realized that Kindness Isn’t Normal.”
Kindness Isn’t Normal. That has stuck with me all these years - especially now that I work in schools nationwide speaking about compassion, kindness, empathy, and love. I’m reminded all the time that, for many of us (especially young people - but certainly not exclusively), Kindness is NOT usually our default setting. We spend so much time worrying about our problems, our lives, our comfort, our insecurities, getting to our flight - that we walk by or ignore people in need of Kindness every day. I’m oftentimes so worried about ME that I’m really bad at taking care of YOU.
So, I’ve made it my mission to do my part in making Kindness Normal. To share stories with students, teachers, and parents about our need for character and compassion. To provide young people with practical ways to exercise Kindness (they don’t always know what it looks like!). And, for me? I’m always be on the lookout for Helga’s—for the little opportunities that surround me every day to practice making Kindness my default setting.
For more info on Houston’s company visit www.houstonkraft.com
Such an amazing story that really moves people. Thank You for sharing this story with us, keep up the kind acts!!!over 2 years ago
Thank you for sharing. It seems for several years my kindness has taken a back seat to what sadly has become the 'norm' of not caring, selfish actions and little to no true kindness. Today I take one more step back into my norm of kindness. It is time to make Kindness matter and more of the norm. Thank you and wishing you many kindness acts toward you and to give away.
Denise Marcumover 2 years ago
Kindness is not normal but it should be!#spreadthekindness
Livy Wickenheiserabout 3 years ago
I really appreciate this story and plan to use it to spread kindness.
Virginia Bloomabout 3 years ago
Thanks for sharing Houston, I was looking for those words to explain that kindness is not obvious. #KindnessIsNotNormal
Anne Githuiabout 3 years ago
Thank you for sharing your story! :)
Tiffany Costaover 3 years ago
I love this story. You came and visited my school lat year. We miss you Houston!! You have inspired me to spread more kindness in my community.
Andrea Christianover 3 years ago
This story is amazing. You are absolutely right, kindness isn't normal but it most certainly should be.
Em Cumminsover 3 years ago
April Paradaover 3 years ago
Thanks for sharing, very touching!
Rachelle Benchalmost 4 years ago
Houston, thank you for your story. I often wonder how to walk the talk to my grandchildren, who live a distance from me. You've sparked an idea and that's the power of speaking up, showing up. Thank you.
Lj Bousquetalmost 4 years ago