Kindness changes the way you see
One of the great lessons cancer taught me was the importance of getting my thought-life in order.
There are way too many things in this world that could go wrong. If we allow ourselves to think whatever thought pops into our heads, we risk being dragged into a black hole of despair.
But how do we replace those negative thoughts with something more positive? What do we think about instead?
It's been my secret weapon for the past six years, and I've discovered I'm not the only one using it. JoAnne Vieweg of Fargo has also uncovered the beauty that comes from looking at life through the lens of kindness.
"When I first discovered I had breast cancer 10 years ago, I was truly worried about the impact on my family, especially my grandson with whom I share a very close bond.
"A year ago, a second unrelated cancer was discovered. It was treated quickly and effectively, however that diagnosis took me right back to the overpowering feelings I had experienced a decade before. Suddenly the world felt very ominous and threatening. I worried daily about the safety and welfare of my family. Then kindness came to my rescue.
"One day, I found myself aggravated with a person at a drive-thru when I ordered a soda. I asked if they had caffeine free diet. He said they had diet and that it was probably caffeine free. He didn't really know, but assured me it was okay.
"I went ahead and ordered it anyway knowing that I could tolerate a bit of caffeine, but felt aggravated with him that he did not know for sure. By the time I reached the window to pay, he had checked with his manager and discovered it was not caffeine free. He apologized and offered two other choices I might make instead.
"I suddenly found myself no longer aggravated. I was pleased he had gone above and beyond and sought out answers. Not only that, he offered other options.
"I realized that noticing his kindness made me feel happier and pleased with the world. I decided to watch out for kindnesses around me every day. The person in line at the checkout who let someone go ahead; the driver who patiently let the other car go first; the toddler who picked up her friend's dropped toy and returned it rather than keeping it herself.
"This has helped me see the world in a friendlier light and has helped ease my distress and sense of foreboding. The world can indeed be a bright and welcoming place."
It's true, whether you are doing good things for others or an observant witness, kindness can change the way you see the world.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University's men's head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Friday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.