In the hustle and bustle of modern life, we often get caught up in ourselves and lose track of those around us. Work, classes and other obligations take up huge chunks of our time.
In this omnipresent struggle to find out who we are, we also try as hard as possible to tune out the things that make life difficult. While we juggle everything going on in our own lives, we often find it challenging to improve the lives of others. At least I do.
Somehow, some people manage to do it despite the pressures of their upbringing, finances and circumstances. Kindness is a special quality.
Whether you’re helping an old lady cross the street, donating money to charity, or doing something in between, being nice encompasses a wide variety of benevolent actions.
However, being kind goes a step further than being nice. To be kind is to invest a part of yourself in the act of magnanimity, to do something nice for someone because you meant to help that person. When you’re kind, you do nice things without the expectation of reward.
Don’t get me wrong, it is important to be nice to people, but being nice by itself is unfulfilling. It is shallow and reinforced by some sort of external gratification like praise or a reward. Kindness is niceness internalized. It is the state of mind in which you’re nice for the sake of being nice as part of some internal code that tells you that you’re doing the right thing.
Anybody can be kind, but fewer people have achieved this unconventional state of mind. Though I don’t think it’s particularly difficult to think this way, I do find it challenging to think outside myself on a consistent basis.
That is the secret to its rarity. I think defeatism and fear need to be conquered before this philosophy becomes something visceral and something attainable. Through hard work, persistence and a genuine passion for others, anyone can be truly kind.
Andrew Blitman is a senior majoring in marine affairs and biology.