The Kindness of Strangers—The Practical Side

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

This quote is from “A Streetcar Named Desire,” a play from 1947 written by American playwright Tennessee Williams. For some reason, when I think of the word kindness, I think of strangers and then loved ones. I know this sounds weird, but I believe it is because I am usually more taken aback when a stranger is kind to me than when a family member or loved one is. Maybe it is because we somewhat expect our family members and friends to treat us with kindness.

The truth is, kindness—no matter its source—is essential for our emotional health. When we receive acts of kindness we feel seen, understood, validated, encouraged and even treasured. Performing acts of kindness evokes feelings of resourcefulness, joy, empathy and justice. Kindness—and its cousin empathy—must be cultivated in our everyday lives so that we can live emotionally healthy and fulfilling lives. 

So why aren’t we a kinder, more-thoughtful society as a whole? I believe busyness and self-focus constantly compete with our ability to give and receive kindness. We are all busy—every single one of us. However, if you feel you are drowning in to-do lists every day, a counseling session with a life-coaching focus can help get you back on track so that you have more time to engage in meaningful life activities instead of meagerly running from one thing to the next. The other thief of kindness–self-focus—can be a little trickier to tackle.

We live in America—home of the self-made man/woman. Our society, in more ways than I can count, encourages us to be self-focused. The amount of self-help books you can find on Amazon is one example of this. The selfie is another. Think of how many selfies people take every day and especially tweens and teenagers. In her book, UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, Michele Borba, EdD, states there is 58% rise in self-centered thoughts, goals and actions among American college kids over the past three decades and a 40% decrease in empathic behavior. But it is not just young adults.  All of us are focused on our dreams, our ideas and our goals to the point that sometimes we forget or discredit the importance of slowing down and finding ways to spread kindness.

In the personal blog on kindness, I will give you some practical ways to invite kindness into your routine.  But for now, are you feeling overwhelmed, overly busy or maybe even depressed? If you are struggling with finding balance or are suffering with anxiety or depression this holiday season, a trained and licensed Orlando mental health therapist can help you. The holidays are a difficult season emotionally for MANY people. Engage in the most important act of kindness possible by taking care of you so that you can be healthy for yourself and others. Call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.


Yolanda Brailey