People often say that it doesn't cost anything to be kind. I've been thinking about that a lot lately and it just isn't true.
Kindness has a cost. Maybe it's money. Maybe it's time. Maybe it's energy. But there's always a cost.
It's easy to see the monetary cost of some acts of kindness: charitable contributions, a gift to someone who needs support, comfort, or celebration, even the cost of a postage stamp on a card or letter.
But it's not the monetary cost that discourages people from being kind. At it's most fundamental level, being kind costs you your self-absorption. You can't be kind if you don't notice what other people need. You have to step outside yourself to risk making an offer that might be refused-- even saying hi to the person walking past you on the sidewalk.
Being kind costs you your laziness. You have to take steps to actually do something -- even if it's as simple as picking up the piece of trash you didn't drop.
Being kind costs you the selfishness with which you hold on to your time. Listening to someone tell the same story again takes times. Just sitting with a someone who is sick and lonely takes time. Letting the harried mom with 3 kids go ahead of you in the grocery store line takes time.
Kindness has a cost, but often we don't see what the payment buys us. In many cases, our efforts seem futile. There will be trash on the street again tomorrow. The mom may not say thanks. We may sit alone when we need contact and comfort.
Is kindness its own reward?