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  • Peter Bouloukos


One of the best parts of being human? Every interaction, each new day gives us new opportunities to choose between negativity and positivity, between knee-jerk reactivity and conscious response. What really is the point of getting all worked up, pointing a finger or holding any semblance of anger? The truth is, we never know another person's struggles, circumstances or true ambitions.

Rather than lashing out, looking for an excuse to be angry, why not step into a place where you might be able to make another human being feel a little better about him or herself? I find great peace and a better understanding of my world when I strive to be better than any mood or misunderstanding. I also love to listen, learn and grow.

And you know what? I obtain more satisfaction or happiness when I genuinely love, understand and remain patient with the circumstances or world around me. Each and every day on Earth we have the opportunity to love, show kindness, to listen and to be very understanding. We have thousands of opportunities to be kind to others. We also have the same opportunities to hold a grudge or to be angry. Now, unless we make a conscious effort, we are very unlikely to seize even a small fraction of the best opportunities or to use them to help us grow at heart.

All too often we miss our "do-good" or "do-great" opportunities because we are too caught up in how something hurts or affects us, rather than noticing the potential for something even better than before. We have our minds wrapped up in who we think we are or we get defensive in areas or realms of challenge. We have our heads screwed into devices, social networks and our lists of things we have to do...

We text or speak on the phone while standing in the line at the grocery store sometimes missing the opportunity to make someone smile or light up their day. We fail to call each other on the phone just to say "hello" and hide behind quick texts or facebook interaction. We don't spend enough time looking each other in the eye and authentically listening to what the other person has to share or is excited about. We work, work, work and never spend time doing what we love most. What ever happened to quality time or play?

We forget to say "thank you" and all too often focus on what's wrong instead of what's right about the world around us.

We’re so involved in our own schedules and priorities, we miss the little moments that have the potential to make a big difference in someone else’s day, and our own.

Thoughtfulness toward others is not a one-way street. When we offer compassion and consideration, the benefits circle right back to us in often strange and unpredictable ways. Kindness not only boosts our mood, it also has a positive effect on our health. It’s akin to what’s known as the helper’s high, that feel-good rush of endorphins that has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood in those who invest time in volunteering and other good causes.

The best part: Acts of kindness tend to have a snowball effect. One kind gesture inspires another, creating a fun “pay it forward” effect. That mindset is its own reward, enticing us to be less self-obsessed and less inclined toward frustration or boredom.

The opposite is also true: Being rude, impatient, or tense breeds more of those emotions. The more entitled and adversarial we feel, the more likely we are to trigger those same feelings in others. Instead of paying it forward, we inadvertently extract an emotional price from people who make the mistake of “getting in our way” — whether at work, at home or in the community.

Try this: Walk into your workplace or another situation where you tend to be busy, grumpy, or stressed out. Instead of barging into the space with “outta my way!” energy, enter thoughtfully, and give the first people you see a smile, a pat on the back, or a word of encouragement. You might be surprised by how little it takes to create a positive shift.

Keep running this experiment, slowing down a few times a day to notice even one or two conscious-kindness opportunities in your own life. Notice, and then act. I promise you, the feeling you’ll get in return will be far more rewarding than checking one more item off your to-do list. It's way better than holding any grudge, anger or resentment. In my opinion, simply focus on what's right and expand upon it. Make someone else's world and watch your world expand!!!


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