Serendipity | Kindness and courage



Bravery isn’t present only on battlefields, although incredible examples of courage and valor happen there, and in the middle of emergencies. Other times it occurs quietly, or maybe awkwardly as someone tries putting one foot in front of the other to get the job done or cautiously go to Plan B. Brave smiles are apparent in airports, medical waiting rooms, principals’ offices, courtrooms, hospital maternity floors, lawyers’ offices and countless other places where outcomes might be gloriously happy or tragically sad. Sometimes it’s waiting that requires tremendous bravery.

Once in a hospital surgical area, I heard a nurse asking an adult patient about the stuffed animal the woman brought with her. “It helps me from being nervous,” she explained. “I’m always nervous about things like this.” The fear was audible in her voice, but so was her effort to appear calm.

We value courage and rightly so, but sometimes the best example of bravery is almost overlooked because it’s not immediately apparent. It may be in the person who gets up each morning, in spite of multiple challenges, to begin another day, go to work or be at home as a caregiver, or wonder how to muster up strength for days spent alone. While we don’t know the story of each person we encounter, we can give others the benefit of the doubt. Often if we knew individuals’ situations, we’d respond compassionately to them. Particularly if we don’t know details, we can always act courteously and kindly.

Facebook, even with its negativity or comments that simply “stir the pot” of continual controversy, also offers reminders to be accepting and forgiving. And if that can’t happen because of built up hurt and disagreements, we can at least be kind in our responses without taking it upon ourselves to pass judgment. One recent post suggested, “Use your smile, your words, your kindness” to help. Millions of people in this world are kind and caring, but sometimes we let one person’s rudeness override the thoughtfulness of many others.

People are often heard saying, “The world has changed. People aren’t like they used to be.” Absolutely the world has changed, and it will continue doing so. Change is the nature of life, and that can be exceedingly difficult to accept. If we’re satisfied with how things are going, we want them to stay that way, and we’re disappointed when it doesn’t happen. But if our circumstances are particularly challenging, we want them to hurry and change for the better. Life will be less complicated if we recognize that change is inevitable, and sometimes it works to our advantage. An often overlooked result of struggles is that it can teach us patience and acceptance if we are willing to learn the lessons.

January ushers in a new month and fresh opportunities for the year. We can choose our behavior and begin changes now. Help someone mend a disagreement; clean out the attic, reminisce about what was and look ahead for what’s to come; start walking and exercising instead of sitting and watching screens; call a high school friend; volunteer in the community; and always, every day, find something to be grateful for and remember to share. Your bravery will increase and so will your good will to others and yourself.

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