Day 29: “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.”

I was looking at one of those complimentary, sample-sized bottles of shampoo in my hotel room one morning over the weekend when I started thinking about the shampoo song (which, I think, actually was called the “Shower Song”) that Phoebe Buffay sang on Friends during the second-season episode “The One with the Baby on the Bus” – “Lather. Rinse. Repeat…Lather. Rinse. Repeat…Lather. Rinse. Repeat…as needed.”

The song is funny not only because of Phoebe’s earnest delivery of the lyrics but also because of the abject absurdity of those lyrics. On one hand, it’s reasonable for any product – even something as mundane as deodorant, hand soap, mouthwash, shampoo, or toothpaste – to display or include instructions for safe and proper use, especially in our ever-more-litigious society. On the other hand, most of the instructions and warnings included with these types of products seem like things we should already know without being told – or even reminded – about them.

Using something like deodorant or mouthwash or toothpaste is so ordinary that it’s almost second nature to most of us – something we do every day without even really thinking about it.

And then I started thinking about simple acts of kindness – holding a door (or even an elevator) for someone, picking up a piece of litter and putting it in the trash, putting a coin in a parking meter that’s about to expire, saying thank you (and actually meaning it), or smiling at a stranger (or store clerk) – the little things we could do everyday without even really thinking about, the little things we should already know to do without being told – or even reminded – to do.

All of these things seem mundane – perhaps even as mundane as washing our hair or brushing our teeth – and none of them require much effort.

But there’s one big difference.

People don’t notice when we brush our teeth or wash our hair (even though they probably notice when we don’t). People DO notice when we offer them a simple act or gesture of kindness. That’s why I think it needs to become part of our daily routine – something we do as casually and as frequently as we brush our teeth or wash our hair, without even thinking about it.

And if I were going to make a instruction label for it, it would probably look something like this: “Be kind. Repeat…as often as you can.”

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