010320 human condition (toned)

Human beings have a natural tendency toward kindness and protection.

Although it sometimes seems that the world is full of cruelty and inhumanity, we should remember that the reason those stories are so shocking is that they go against most people's natural instincts.

The basic message of the golden rule is simple — treat others as you yourself would like to be treated. From simple gestures — helping a parent lift a stroller up a flight of steps, giving blood or helping a child learn to read — are examples of our urge to help others.

Modern life can be busy and stressful, and it doesn't always work harmoniously with the golden rule. Whether at work or at home with the family, it can be easy to slip into bad habits, take people for granted and just assume things will get done.

But our daily interactions with people can have a massive impact on our mood and sense of well-being. Call it peace of mind if you wish. That's why it's important to take a step back every so often and reflect on the way you treat other people. That doesn't mean you have to go soul searching; just take a moment to appreciate the things that matter most.

The smallest action or reaction can alter the course of a person's day.

If everyone aimed for one daily act of kindness, just think of the combined effect on humanity's mood. Did the police officer give you a ticket or let you off with a warning? Did you get annoyed with your son when he spilled the milk at breakfast or did you tell him that accidents happen and help him to mop it up? Did you welcome a homeless person attending your church?

Kindness lives long in people's memories, and the powerful impact of good deeds is often felt long after the event itself.

A simple act of kindness can start a domino effect.

So what good deed will you do today?

— Hinojosa lives in Baton Rouge

Advocate readers may submit stories of about 500 words to The Human Condition at features@theadvocate.com or The Advocate, Living, 10705 Rieger Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. There is no payment, and stories will be edited. Authors should include their city of residence, and, if writing about yourself, a photo.