Written by Amanda Moore, Kid in the Corner Volunteer
Life is hard. There is no handbook for life. Everyone struggles, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender, religious beliefs, or age. But what if each of us could make those struggles more bearable for one another? Would you do it?
My fiancé and I recently moved from New York City to Phoenix. It’s been a hard transition for me. I feel a bit like a fish out of water. I am lucky to have a lot of family here, but I’m missing the community I had back in New York. As such, I’ve spent a lot of time at home watching tv or on social media. I’ve been afraid to put myself out there to make new friends, and many days I feel like I don’t belong here. These feelings can be very isolating and overwhelming. Humans are social beings, and at a basic level, we all want to belong.
Last week, I sat in my car outside the grocery store, talking to my best friend in New York. We were catching up on what was happening there and the fun book club she had just joined. I couldn’t help but feel sad and long for the life I had in New York. After getting off the phone with her, that strong need to belong in Phoenix washed over me.
Thirty minutes later, in the checkout line of the grocery store, something small yet miraculous happened. I was struggling with the enrolling in the rewards card, and a line had formed after me to check out. I started to stress. I mentioned to the clerk that I had recently moved here and was still trying to figure out all the systems. She asked where I moved from, to which I replied New York City and no fewer than ten people jumped in asking about New York, giving me tips on surviving the summers in Phoenix, and great day trips to try out. At that moment, I experienced my first feeling of belonging in Phoenix. Those ten people probably had no idea how their kindness impacted me, but their generosity and compassion made me feel like I was going to belong here. Their kindness only cost them one minute of talking to a stranger but it gave me a significant sense of hope.
In the dictionary, kindness is defined by a behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, rendering assistance, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward in return. An act of kindness can be helping a friend through a challenging situation or as small as smiling and saying “hello, how are you?” to a stranger. A study from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology has found that performing acts of generosity boosts happiness and well-being and is even linked to physical health benefits. When you perform an act of kindness, whether random or intentional, you not only positively impact someone else’s life, but you’re also improving your own mental and physical health. Imagine how great you would feel if you approached each day with kindness.
In addition to receiving kindness, I try to be intentional about spreading it too. Last weekend, I joined 45 volunteers from across the valley to make Zach Packs. Zach Packs is an annual community kindness event hosted by Kid in the Corner to provide care “packs” for those suffering from homelessness. It was an incredible opportunity to be with so many, providing food, water, and dental hygiene products for the most vulnerable. Hand-delivering the packs left a lasting imprint and I look forward to participating in more Kid in the Corner events, honoring Zach’s legacy by spreading kindness.
This summer, between ice cream sundaes and pool parties, I challenge you to commit to doing one act of kindness daily. Reflect on how you made someone feel and how you feel afterward. Life is hard, but it’s much easier when we show each other kindness. How will you be kind today?