Life is hard. We are always fighting against the challenges of life, such as stress from work, financial hardship and relationship problems. People deal with hardships through different means. Some travel to catch some fresh air, while others seek the support of a friend or loved one. Although we ought to be spending our days in the pursuit of happiness, instead we are more often trying desperately to find a way to escape misery.
Amongst all this, we forget a very simple fact. Others around us are going through just as hard a life as we are. A sad truth about the human condition is that in times of stress, we instinctively become self-preserving. At the end of the day, evolution favours those who are able to save their own skin. Because of this, we are always seeking support and kindness to help us escape our misery, while often turning a blind eye to other people’s misery.
When is the last time you asked a friend about what’s really going on in their lives? It is much more common for us to blurt out what’s troubling us than asking others about their own troubles. We could be complaining to our friends about something trivial compared to the strife they are going through, but we would not know because we had not asked.
Even worse, what about strangers on the streets? If someone was rude to us, it would sour our day. But if we were rude to someone because we were genuinely in a rush or having a terrible day, we excuse ourselves and do not think much of it. How do we know that that person isn’t having the worst day of their lives and we just made it worse?
Of course it is impossible to know of all the bad things happening to everyone. We can make an effort to reduce the burden of our friends by being supportive, but it is hard to do that for someone you meet for less than a minute on the streets.
So perhaps the solution is this: be generous with your kindness. You have no idea what situation the other person is in, but it is hard to do wrong when you treat everyone around you with kindness. At worst, you’ve expended a small part of your emotional energy. At best, you’ve become more empathetic and happy, while making someone’s day. Never forget how much difference you can make with simple acts and words of kindness.