#PeopleAreWorthIt: It’s as simple as that
September 9, 2015 § Leave a comment
It was a little over a year ago that I started posting my thoughts and messages of encouragement using the #PeopleAreWorthIt hashtag. What started as a practice of sending positive messages out into the Twitterverse soon became an intentional daily habit of trying to uplift the spirits of others. Although I post quite prolifically on the #PeopleAreWorthIt feed – just check out the hashtag, and you’ll see what I mean – I want to clarify that #PeopleAreWorthIt is not my property. I lay no claim to that hashtag because I consider that hashtag to be everyone’s. Much like one cannot patent emotions like happiness, I make no attempt to confuse my kindness with personal property.
Oddly enough, the frequency of my posts have little to do with laying claim. It’s simply science. (The geeky part of me would want to inundate you with the research from positive psychology about the benefits of our ratio of positive to negative interactions each day. Don’t fear. I won’t let that part of me win.) So because of science, I do my best to increase the frequency of positive messages any who wish to read them on Twitter. In my own way, I am just trying to make the world a better place.
You might be wondering why I’m telling you this. It’s because Twitter posts are no longer enough. I needed more. So, I must confess. I started being kind in person too. Now for some of us digital denizens, that might seem unnecessary. And for my fellow introverts, it may even feel a bit scary. For part of the spring and most of the summer, I found myself working a temporary job with people I never met before. (They are a group of outstanding people I might add.) And in the few months I spent with them, I learned much about kindness. You see, everyone but the top few at that company was temporary in one way or another, and when you work with hundreds of people who have a little job security, you learn a few things about kindness, about how organizations value human beings, and about yourself. When I left for a more stable position in July, a feeling welled up inside me. For weeks now, I’d worked with people doing thankless jobs under the stress of deadlines that were arbitrarily set with little realism, yet I saw glimmers of the best of humanity in my coworkers. I watched them share meals together at lunch time, I saw them build friendships for no other reason than they were randomly sat next to one another, and I witnessed supervisors as temporary as the rest of us make as many kind gestures as they could afford to make on their meager salary to add levity to our daily doldrums – often spending their own money on basic supplies needed just to get the job done. What I felt welling up inside me as I thought about leaving was a feeling akin to guilt. I felt as if I was abandoning people who worked not just for a paycheck, which was why they were there, but also in a manner that intended to make life that much more bearable for the person next to them. In situations where employment is more stable, we call this collegiality, but here in a sea of temporary employment, there was little long-term benefit to being collegial. We were mercenaries. Our only expected allegiance was to our paycheck. Yet, so many chose kindness.
Before I left, I took #PeopleAreWorthIt out of cyberspace and printed it on business-card sized cards. On one side of the card, I printed a copy of a painting or pen art I had created, and on the other side, I wrote one of the #PeopleAreWorthIt messages I routinely post online. At that point, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the cards. So when I got to work that day, I watched the room and listened to the people interact with each other. I had a finite few of these cards. Because of that, I could not give them to every person in the room, so I focused on a handful of people who I had noticed going out of their way each day for others. I wanted them to know that someone noticed, that their acts mattered, even just a little. So in the white space that remained, I carefully added a personalized note to each card before passing them out. I did my best to not make a show of it because that would undermine what I was trying to do. You see, #PeopleAreWorthIt has been a humble attempt to encourage and inspire others to continue being kind, to continue being generous, to continue being the best versions of themselves.
What I learned from passing those cards out was that people need messages of hope. With each response they gave, I witnessed the yearning and desire to be kind and generous manifest through handshakes, mouthed words, and quiet thank-yous.
Fast-forward a week: I was in Boston at a meeting for a side job, and I took a few cards with me to that meeting. I made time again to quietly hand them to people with whom I worked that had made the experience that much better because of their strengths and because of who they are. Surprisingly, I received a similar reaction, this time from people with whom I spent much less time and from people who had little to no reason to prioritize a real connection with me. Again, I witnessed an outpouring of human desire to be noticed for just being them; they seemed genuinely touched by being thanked for being the best versions of themselves. This got me thinking, and on the plane flight home, I decided I needed to send more of these cards even to those I could not meet face-to-face.
So here we are now paragraphs into a story that is probably much longer than it needed to be. But I wouldn’t be me and this site wouldn’t be called “Involuntary Verbosity” if I summed up quickly. So long story long, I’m now printing postcards with my art on one side and handwritten messages of hope and inspiration on the other. There’s just one problem. I only have a handful of people to send a postcard. So, I want to petition you all: my digital friends who know people who need messages of hope and inspiration, who see people every day that need a random act of kindness, or maybe know people who they don’t get to see very often if at all anymore and wish to send them a message of hope. I wouldn’t be me if I only cared about the kind acts that I could do. That’s easy even for an introvert. What’s harder and more important is to inspire others to be kind too. Sometimes, we need help, and I am happy to help my sending a postcard to someone on your behalf. If you’re interested, you can e-mail the name and address of your intended recipient to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the end, my hope is that you will join me in sending kindness out into the realverse.
As I pointed out just the other day on Twitter, #PeopleAreWorthIt is not a business; I’m just an individual who wishes to promote and spread kindness. That being said, it means I have limitations. I will only use my art because I can guarantee there will be no copyright infringements with it, but I will personalize the message on your behalf as long as that message is one of care and kindness.
Why am I doing this? That’s easy; it’s as simple as #PeopleAreWorthIt!