BY M. M. Donaldson
It’s ugly out there. I don’t mean to put down anyone, but from the time I wake up and listen to the news, drive to work, spend eight hours with coworkers, check social media and run errands I have had a full day of hate cross my path.
It makes me feel bad. Depending on the amount and level of hate, my body may respond with a headache, clenched teeth, knotted stomach or bitten nails. This is not healthy.
It isn’t just the haters of different opinions, different skin colors or different religions who resort to violence. Even small inconsiderations hurt those on the receiving end as well as those dishing it out. It all contributes to creating a toxic world.
How we think, feel and socialize are all part of an individual’s social competence. Yet exposure to different beliefs and values will mold a person’s social norms.
Preschoolers develop their own social competence influencing how they interact and behave towards others as shown in a 2014 study published in the American Psychological Association.
The children who participated in the Kindness Curriculum training administered by Lisa Flook and her colleagues in the study were more willing to share their stickers with others compared to the group not coached on kindness. They were more selfish with their stickers.
On the other side of the spectrum, adults who act on angry feelings increase those feelings and act more aggressively. Dr. Brad Bushman has written extensively on debunking Freud’s psychological theory of expressing anger to get past it.
Taming negative thoughts and angry feelings, often arising from perceived threats that are blown out of proportion, has happened.
Psychologist Jerry Deffenbacher has studied anger for more than 30 years and supports using cognitive behavioral therapy to lower the levels of anger. Using this type of therapy can change negative behaviors by working through unproductive thoughts and feelings.
Haters need to change.
But there is a whole lot of people I can’t change, so I’ve tried to come up with a handful of quotes to remind me of what I can change.
- “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” Mother Theresa
Calcutta, now known as Kolkata, was her stomping grounds where she lived and served the poor and destitute using the charity of others. Smiles are free and are generally multiplied.
- “Don’t be cruel.” Elvis
Although the King of Rock and Roll crooned about heartbreak and love in this song, there is no reason to be cruel in relationships or traffic either. A little courtesy can go a long way.
- “Kindness is always fashionable, and always welcome.” Amelia Barr
Though this British novelist’s opinion may be from the 19th century, it still holds true today. No one can ever deny kindness, and kindness truly never looks bad on anyone. Never show up to a party wearing negativity.
- “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop
In this age of reduce, reuse, recycle, being kind doesn’t have to cost a penny but may likely inspire an upcycle with the next person.
- “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Plato
Attributed to Plato, but more likely written by a man more contemporary, it reminds me that the person who just cut me off at an exit may not be the jerk I see them as, and may actually be rushing to the hospital to see a dying loved one.
M. M. Donaldson is a contributor with The Voice and a journalism student at WCC. She has a bachelor of science in family and community services from Michigan State University, and has several years’ experience with nutrition issues affecting infants through older adults. Follow M.M. Donaldson on Facebook.