I would say yes, and no. And this is going to get a bit spiritual today, but bear with me.
Liberty Mutual (no, I am not a customer) has illustrated this concept in their “give a little” commercial, the long form of which can be seen here.
Kindness can go above and beyond everyday manners, but manners, such as holding a door for someone behind you, can become an act of kindness. When you perform an act of kindness, it changes you on the inside. That warm feeling is how we, as humans, ought to feel all the time. Sane, calm, peaceful, caring. Not angry, critical, on edge. This feeling can bloom over perfect strangers and closest friends. And its okay if its not reciprocated today. Or even tomorrow. You are putting your karmic deeds out ‘there’ and you will reap the benefits. With a happier heart, with less judgement, less anger. And younger looking skin. (Okay, I might have been joking about that last bit.)
This year, one of my resolutions is to pass on acts of kindness. That doesn’t mean that someone has to be kind (or mannerly) to me first in order for me to, in turn, pass it on. I can start the domino affect. I want to keep in mind that an act of kindness is not just a “do it once and be done” resolution, but an everyday event. The best thing about this, it takes the conscious decision to do it, and little else. An act of kindness can be holding a door for the person behind you, providing a kind word or compliment to someone, smiling at a stranger, a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for service, letting a driver in front of you in traffic. No cost, no time commitment, no effort, except for the decision to do it.
Imagine how our world be if kindness became a habit. If we “loved our neighbors as ourselves.” What change could be brought about in your neighborhood, your community? And how might that grow? Kindness will almost never make the nightly news. But that’s okay, because it can flourish right before your eyes.