New from Dr. Get-Your-Life-Together: The Tragedy of Delayed Kindness

My charge to you, and to myself, is to more frequently and intentionally initiate and reciprocate gratitude and kindness without delay.

Flowers. Thank you cards. Words of affirmation. Compliments. Uninterrupted time. Showing up for others. These are just some of the ways that we show gratitude and kindness to people who have either performed a service or good deed for us or to those who we simply value, appreciate, respect, admire, and love.

Sadly though, too often we find ourselves lacking the capacity, willingness, or awareness to initiate or reciprocate everyday, or special occasion, acts of kindness. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Frank A. Thomas, Director of the PhD Program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana, speak on the topic, “the tragedy of delayed kindness.” He reminded the audience that, “one flower in life is worth more floral wreaths in death” and that “please and thank you will take you further in life than money and degrees.” This message resonated with me, as there are times when I find myself too busy to initiate kindness to let someone know how much I appreciate them or to reciprocate kindness to show my gratitude for what someone has done for me. 

I can’t begin to count the number of times, this week alone, I’ve been on the receiving end of kindness and gratitude. I’ve received: compliments on my new Mason gear that I recently purchased at the University bookstore during the Flash Sale; a kind and very thoughtful email from my supervisor letting me know how much she appreciates me and values my leadership and perspectives; a thank you note and gift card from a colleague to express her gratitude for how I always support her and answer her questions no matter how trivial or complex; and a student walking up to me in the Johnson Center to tell me that he was officially enrolled for the semester and eligible to receive his VA benefits as a result of my colleagues and I taking the time to meet with him when he showed up to the office unannounced and in a panic and working expeditiously, on his behalf, to resolve his challenges. Indeed, I’m humbled and energized by the varied acts of kindness that have been directed towards me this week. My spirit is lifted, and my kindness cup “runneth over.” 

Truly, it’s great to be on the receiving end of kindness; but, of course, it works both ways. As such, my charge to you, and to myself, is to more frequently and intentionally initiate and reciprocate gratitude and kindness without delay.

Therefore, in this blog space, I want to publicly recognize the staff from across the College and the student volunteers who helped make our CEHD Welcome2Mason Block Party this week a huge success! Also, special gratitude to my staff, the CEHD Student Success Team, for successfully planning and flawlessly executing two signature events this week, the Block Party and the PhD and faculty mixer! Lastly, thank you to my new graduate assistant who has been going above and beyond to acclimate herself to our office and the CEHD culture and displaying ultimate team player spirit, as she has willingly dived in to help the office staff in whatever capacity needed. 

Now it’s your turn. Let someone know today how grateful you are for what they’ve done for you; how they’ve made you feel; or how you appreciate what they are doing in the lives of others. Give them their “flowers” now while they can still see, smell, and/or touch them. 

Here are a few suggestions to help get you started:

  • Send a kind note to that professor who gave you an IN grade to allow you more time to complete assignments when they weren’t obligated.
  • Offer an appropriate compliment to that classmate who always shows up for class looking fly! It takes time to consistently look fly!
  • Bring a coworker a small token of appreciation for covering your shift or volunteering to help lighten your workload.
  • Call (not text!) your parents or an old friend just to let them know that you’re thinking about them.
  • Leave the server a 20% tip the next time you’re dining in at a restaurant to show appreciation for the quality of service that enhanced your experience. 

Don’t delay. (Re)Activate your spirit of kindness today, for as Dr. Thomas reminded me, and I share with you, “there’s a tragedy in delayed kindness.”

Dr. Ivory Berry, also known as “Dr. Get-Your-Life-Together,” is the Assistant Dean for Student Success for the College of Education and Human Development. He shares his no-nonsense wisdom every day in the Office of Student and Academic Affairs, and occasionally, here on the Student Success Blog.