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By Victoria Braverman

An act of kindness towards me, which touched me particularly deeply, involved a friend who had previously offered unwanted help on several occasions when I was going through a particularly hard time. She kept inviting me to dinner gatherings at her house but I just couldn’t cope with being polite in company. She phoned me one day to say “I don’t want to disturb you and you don’t have to speak….. but I’m outside and I have something for you.” I went outside to find her with a bag of home cooked food. My portions for that evening’s dinner. She held them out with a smile, said that I could eat them at her place if I wanted. I shook my head, tears in my eyes, gave her a big hug, and we said goodbye. It was a beautiful moment of friendship, kindness and empathy.

It was a beautiful moment of friendship, kindness and empathy. Click To Tweet

Another friend told me of a time when her car broke down on a busy dual carriageway. Waiting for the recovery people to arrive she had a breakdown of her own and sat crying in her car. All of a sudden a complete stranger appeared at her window, presented her with a bar of chocolate, the. ran across the road back to his car. Extraordinary, thoughtful, empathetic and simply lovely.

Doing something out of empathy may or may not be kind, as we’ve seen in the examples of the old lady and her shopping bags, but I suspect true kindness must be accompanied by empathy and thoughtfulness.

True kindness must be accompanied by empathy and thoughtfulness. Click To Tweet

I asked a French speaking friend what she thought of when I said the word “kindness”. She started to explain and looked up the word in Google translate. There were eight words offered in translation, which appeared to her to have little to do with each other. Looking at the English translations of those words, I could see how diverse they were – from amiability to endearment, concern to benignity. It turns out that the concept itself is such a complex one that there isn’t a single word in French to cover it. Interestingly, Empathy was not on the list.

Until next time, wishing you a good week, full of acts of random, thoughtful, empathetic kindnesses.