Random Acts of Kindness

If you are in a tumultuous relationship, whether with a coworker or friend, you can disassociate with him to end the conflict. But what happens when you stay? While ending a relationship guarantees the situation will turn out well, you gain from persevering through the difficult periods. 

The answer is hidden beyond the undesirable moments. An eye for an eye goes on for infinity, however, you can break the cycle. The times my siblings and I had a disagreement, my father would take each of us aside and say, “It takes two to make an argument.” This blanket statement never seemed logical to me because there were two of us, and we were arguing. 

The way to end an argument is by breaking the chain of disharmony. When you find yourself at odds with someone for longer than you want, stop reacting. Observe what effects follow.

You can resolve conflicts through random acts of kindness. You can end the warfare without actually feeling kind. It’s the act that makes the difference.

For example, if your nemesis is in a mint gum chewing phase, grab a pack when you are in a check out line and leave out for him to find. You don’t have to explain or give away your power. Simply let him choose how to interpret the act. 

You don’t have to be engaging when he asks where it came from. A shrug will suffice because it’s the randomness of the act that gives it impact.

Tell him you like something he is wearing or a thing he owns, or anything at all about his family or work. Certainly, try to comment on what you do like because there must be something, but don’t struggle over whether he deserves to hear a nice word, or whether you like it enough to say something. 

The acts can remain minuscule but make a point to do one kind thing each day. No matter how angry or inconsiderate your nemesis is, the tiny gestures of positive energy will accumulate. A small dose of goodness has a higher frequency than a pound of bad. A little kindness carries the weight of several years’ worth of ill-will. 

Your good acts will modify your nemesis’ reactions. Perhaps the unpleasant gestures are out of habit. For him to realize you thought of him that day, you took a moment to do something helpful, changes the way the two of you relate to one another. You steer the chain of events off the circular path. 

You can increase the level of love you experience through your random acts of kindness. Consider it a gift for both of you.

The Pleasure of Perseverance 

image of hurricane clouds over Atlantic Ocean

Overcome

Photo: Hurricane Irma by J. Wilder Bill

Getting through each day parallels participating in a combative sport. We train for what is expected and invest into preparations for the worst. As I write, the state of Florida is in lockdown, preparing for a hurricane that will pass through by September 11th. Power outages are certain, water lines are sure to be turned off, massive trees always destroy houses and block roads. This is followed by flooding, inhabitable housing, and the inability of emergency vehicles to reach those in need. Interestingly, the strongest hurricane on record revolves around 9/11, which is also an emergency phone number.

To understand perseverance, I compare Tom Brady, Rafael Nadal, and Michael Jordan.

A common thread is their perceiving each baby step toward their completed goal as an accomplishment. Nadal ignores the scoreboard during a match, explaining, “You just try to play tough and focus point for point.” His “motivation is tomorrow, just one day at a time….” Jordan focuses on the next play, saying, “I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot…. When you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result.”

Studies show we release a feel-good chemical when we reach our goals. The more often we complete an objective, the higher the levels of dopamine are in a particular area of our brains. Those increased levels provide a sense of accomplishment, inspiring us to take the next step.

We have the ability to increase our dopamine by mentally rewarding ourselves for doing a good job before reaching our final objective. Brady credits himself with an accomplishment for daily workouts. “I just love working hard. I love being part of a team. I love working toward a common goal.” Nadal enjoys the daily grind, explaining, “The glory is being happy. The glory is not winning here or winning there. The glory is enjoying practicing, enjoy every day, enjoying to work hard, trying to be a better player than before.”

Hard work earns respect from peers. Emotional support boosts dopamine levels. Jordan states, “I want to be perceived as a guy who played his best in all facets, not just scoring. A guy who loved challenges.” Brady says, “My job is to play quarterback, and I’m going to do that the best way I know how, because I owe that to my teammates regardless of who is out there on the field with me.”

A confident winner is unmoved by lack of support. Jordan is inspired by defeatist. “If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.” Nadal dismisses criticism, stating, “No one is perfect. Everybody does stupid things.”

Joy comes from finding a purpose in the effort. “I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat,” says Jordan. “Mentally, the only players who survive in the pros are the ones able to manage all their responsibilities,” provides Brady. Nadal “always work[s] with a goal and the goal is to improve as a player and a person. That finally, is the most important thing of all.”

They ignore their personal needs. “When you’re one of the leaders of the team, there are no days off,” says Brady. With regard to physical discomfort, Nadal explains, “I learned during all my career to enjoy suffering.”

These athletes use failures to demonstrate how high they’ve risen. Jordan counts every glitch in his career to motivate himself to improve. “If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them, everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” According to Brady, “I’ve never gotten over one loss I’ve had in my career. They always stick with me.” He describes himself as “the kid that was the one hundred ninety-ninth pick that never had the body for it. People didn’t think I’d play one year in the NFL, and now I’m going on my seventeenth year.”

With perseverance, milestones exist each day. After losing, Nadal states, “I will do as I usually do. Tomorrow is going to be a day like any other day.” “I’ve never been afraid to fail,” says Jordan.

Dopamine fuels them with enthusiasm. Nadal says, “I am a guy who likes to do what I am doing with passion….” Brady likewise says, “I always try to do as much as I can do. I’m never a person that does not enough, because I’d regret not doing enough and think I probably could have done more. I probably go too far and have to reel myself back in….” Jordan “always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.”

Throughout history, man is encouraged to invoke faith in perseverance. “Oh you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere.” Qur’an AYAH al-Baqarah 2:153. According to James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

Life is flavored with obstacles. Perseverance wins, every time.