When ‘nice’ isn’t enough and kindness counts

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Those new to Panhandle life experience a culture shock and it isn’t the transition to new weather patterns, roads and baristas; it’s adjusting to kindness. Unfortunately, what most accept as “nice” is the basis of civility and respect for others. Kindness goes well beyond the status quo, sparkly smile associated with “nice” and is prevalent in North Idaho communities.

Kindness costs

You know you’ve encountered Panhandle kindness the moment someone willingly stops, gives you his or her undivided attention and helps. Kindness isn’t measured with dollars and cents, it’s measured in time, energy and selflessness. Sometimes the cost of kindness is breaking the rhythm of our workflow to offer our complete attention to a colleague asking yet another question. Other times it comes in the form of offering manpower or a skill set to get someone over an otherwise impossible.

Kindness makes an immediate difference

In our neighbor’s words, “We bit off more than we could chew” and she was right. New to owning acreage we took on too many projects simultaneously. During a busy season our neighbors kindly brought their tractor over to our property and literally dug us out of our problem. Their help relieved a burden immediately changed our circumstances. Kindness is like that, it finds an opportunity to lend a literal and figurative hand to those in its sphere.

You don’t have to dig too deep to find opportunities to make an immediate difference. When you notice a friend or co-worker is having a rough day a quick note of encouragement goes far. A simple awareness of the environment around you and willingness to engage what comes your way with selflessness will lead to a broad ripple effect.

Kindness is contagious

Every exchange with kindness leaves a lasting impression and those impressions influence how we respond to the world around us. Just as it’s hard to frown or remain stoic when faced with a genuine smile it’s hard to receive kindness and remain unchanged. The pay-it-forward and pay-it-backward movements are an example of humanities willingness to unselfishly give and receive. People want to be kind but sometimes others must pave the way and point the direction. Are you paving the way or looking for directions?

Never take kindness for granted

Often the cost of kindness is disregarded because “It’s part of his job”. Sure, those willing to go a step further to make things easier for others are doing their job and excelling at it. Often the mare minimum is a tall order and we’d be wise to remember the times we lived elsewhere or traveled where “nice” is enough.

Panhandle residents don’t settle for “nice”, they strive for kind and this difference makes our communities an extraordinary place to live. Remember, kindness counts, it changes the atmosphere of our communities, it’s free, contagious and it makes an immediate difference. How will you show kindness today?

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