Serving up burritos and kindness

I love a good breakfast burrito. It’s my go-to breakfast. Something smothered in Hatch green chile sauce with pork is really hard to turn down. Sometimes, I order a simple flour tortilla with eggs, bacon, cheese, and Tapatio sauce. Or, maybe a burrito with chorizo. Have you ever had a chile relleno breakfast burrito? There are so many choices.

Lately, I have been stopping by this amazing, drive-thru breakfast burrito place. If you live in Littleton, you probably know the place. I’d seen it for years, but never gone in. About a month ago, I decided to give it a try, and it is now my favorite breakfast spot. To be sure, the burritos are out-of-this-world amazing. But the food isn’t the main reason I go back so often. I return because of the graciousness and kindness of its owner…a guy named Rocky.

“Hey brother, I am Rocky.”

Rocky takes the time to get to know his customers. The first time I pulled up, he introduced himself, greeting me with a fist bump and saying, “Hey brother, I am Rocky.” Then, he gave me a complimentary smoothie and a punch card. When several types of burritos were already sold out, he said, “My number is on the back of the card; just call me the day before to put a request in.” He is about the nicest person you can encounter.

As we enter this spring, I hope we can all focus on a fundamental part of Colorado Academy’s mission– kindness. To be kind takes effort and intentionality. It means putting others first. It means having a sense of service to humanity. Author Henry James is credited with saying, “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” He couldn’t be more correct. Being kind can raise up others, but it also is good for your own health and well-being.

The Mayo Clinic has a great piece that outlines some practical ways to practice kindness. They offer three simple strategies:

  • Practice Loving Kindness Meditation, or LKM. They describe LKM as “a quiet, contemplative practice that focuses thought on your heart region and encourages warm, tender thoughts, possibly about a loved one. In one study, people who practiced LKM an hour a week felt greater positive emotions—love, contentment—while interacting with others.” It also can reduce stress and depression.
  • Set a goal to be kinder to others. Make this a deliberate part of your day. The act of helping others has significant benefits. It stimulates a part of your brain associated with pleasure. And this is what I find fascinating: “It also releases a hormone called oxytocin that helps modulate social interactions and emotion—the higher your oxytocin levels, the more generous you may be.”
  • Focus on gratitude. The Mayo Clinic reports that “researchers have found that feelings of thankfulness can help improve sleep, diminish fatigue, increase confidence, and even lessen depression.”

One recent act of kindness really stands out for me. I used to live in Texas, and it was hard to watch the misery of the millions who lost power and water in the February winter storm. But in the midst of chaos, one company came through for its community: the H.E.B Grocery Store. Charles Butt, the 82-year-old CEO of this grocery chain, is a hero in his state. His parents left him with a sense of social responsibility. He remembers their mantra: “With privilege—whether inherited or earned—comes responsibility.”

When the pandemic first hit, his company instituted policies that limited purchases, in order to ensure as many people as possible had access to food and other necessary household items. He pushed back against the state’s efforts to limit voting during last year’s election noting, “It seems to me that anyone who attempts to deny access to the vote is failing to live up to the spirit of democracy and of America at its best.” But most recently, in response to the storm, H.E.B came to the rescue. Across their 340 stores, they provided water and food and used their logistical expertise to help Texans. Theirs is an incredible story of the power of companies and individuals to aid their local communities through kindness and service.

I will continue scanning the headlines for good news. And I hope we can all learn from Rocky and Charles and do our part to be kind and spread joy.