Recently my kids and I made a crude, economic version of the behavioral “marble jar”- often seen in classrooms- good behavior, add a marble. Optional- bad behavior, remove a marble. We made ours with rocks and a milk jug.
In the process of gathering rocks, we plucked several from wherever we went. In the parking lot of my daughter’s karate studio I picked up a smooth, round rock. A good one for painting (we painted our rocks), I thought to myself. I added this one to a little bag in my trunk, filled with rocks and pebbles of all shapes and sizes. As I looked them over, I was suddenly bothered. This isn’t going to work- they need to be the same. Otherwise, the act of kindness won’t match the size of the rock added (meaning it won’t take up as much space in the jug as it should, given the magnitude of the kindness). And the same vice-versa; if the act is tiny, it hardly seems fair to add a giant rock that takes up tons of room– my thoughts went something like that. Aside from the obvious fact that I was way over-thinking this project- my kids just want to paint rocks and earn treats- it also occurred to me that the quality of this project that I’m citing as flawed is actually very life-like. It’s actually kind of perfect.
In life, it’s impossible to really measure how far the effects of any act of kindness will ripple. A “thank you” to an under-appreciated server could be the thing that changes his day. It could be the impetus that reminds him that he’s doing something real and valuable and worthy of “thank you,” and that he in general is a worthy, valuable human being (you never know!). While it may not contribute to a literal “Kindness Rocks” jug, all kindness, no matter how small, matters. It all counts. It all contributes to a greater good.
Can you imagine…
…if we all chose eye contact with people serving us, instead of our screens?
…if everyone gave the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming the worst?
…if everyone always held the door? and respected right-of-ways? and drove safely because who knows who’s in the cars around them? and left the last bite for their partner? and loved on their kids despite their being little shits? and decided to get curious instead of judgmental when faced with people different than us? Or maybe if we didn’t even reach this far and we all simply decided to say “please” and “thank you”?
All. Kindness. Counts.