At the time of this writing, I’m stuck between states, self-isolating and social distancing at a friend’s home during this COVID-19 calamity. Being in the “vulnerable” category, it’s not feasible for me to do what I naturally would — love and serve in whatever way I could.

One could go south really quick these days if we let ourselves. Most of us have never experienced a pandemic that’s killing so many, including our healthcare providers who are struggling to keep us alive.

We are in all-out emergency mode with a government in chaos, political posturing and economic fallout. Mounds of misinformation exist and recommendations are changing daily.

We must now forage for essential supplies that are few or nonexistent. Jobs are being lost and kids are home instead of at school.

Contact with others must be at least six feet away and infrequent. Loved ones are dying alone. Morgues are overflowing in some cases and funeral gatherings cannot happen.

Yes, here, in the United States of America. And we have no idea when this is going to end.

In lieu of hari kari, I’ve been wondering how I can possibly help. I’ve decided upon kindness.

Kindness keeps us well

Sarah Kaplan, a science reporter, in a March 31 article in The Washington Post reminds us that, “human connection bolsters the immune system.” That, “it’s more important than ever to be kind” in these times.

Even in isolation, “looking at a picture of a loved one can make pain feel less intense.” She goes on to say that, “simply thinking about a supportive person activates a part of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which is associated with overcoming fear.”

Kindness begets kindness

From Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, translated by T.K.V. Desikachar:

The more considerate one is, the more one stimulates friendly feelings among all in one’s presence.
Even those who are unfriendly at other times and among other people may show a different aspect and be friendly in our presence.

In his article in WIRED, “Why Are Rich People So Mean,” Christopher Ryan, an author and speaker, described studies that show those with “the greatest generosity benefited from more respect and cooperation from their peers and had more social influence.”

Kindness strategies

Here are a few of mine these days:

  • While out walking, even from a distance, smile and wave at other people.
  • While out walking, even from a distance, stop and share a few niceties with the neighbors.
  • When in the car, stopped at a traffic light, turn, smile and wave at other drivers.
  • On the phone, even with a stranger, ask about their well-being.
  • On the phone, especially with a call center agent, thank them warmly for their help.
  • Let a supervisor know of an outstanding employee’s interaction with you.
  • Email someone who’s work you admire.
  • Leave things better than you found them.
  • Keep your footprint light.

When I engage in kindness, not only do I feel better, it seems like I am actually being of love and service in some small way. How about you?

May you be filled with loving kindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.

—From “A Path With Heart” by Jack Kornfield

Cheers to being kind!