What is kindness? This is a question I will be answering to be considered as part of an organization focused on bringing more kindness into our world. As I first looked at the question, my reaction was “well, duh, everybody knows what it is.” I then paused to really consider that response. Does everyone really know what kindness is? If that is truly the case, then are we just choosing who to be kind to and when to do so? If we understand that speaking warmly to others instead of being critical and judgmental is part of being kind, why is there so much bitterness and bullying? When faced with these questions, we become perfect blamethrowers. It was our upbringing (or lack thereof), peer pressure, just my personality, rejection, and on and on the list could go of potential reasons to not be kind to others. What is really the issue here and how do we get back to a place where values and integrity matter? How many children need to suffer and become scarred adults before we realize the magnitude of the problem and that it really has a very simple solution?
Holding a door for someone is a sign of respect and an act of kindness. Smiling at others, making eye contact and acknowledging them is also an act of kindness. I could list many small random acts that can be done in the course of a day. Yes, these will make a difference to the recipient as well as to the giver. It creates a glow inside and that is where the change must come from. We can’t sit around and wait for someone else to do it. Speak to your neighbor, call your parents (and/or your children), turn off your cellphones and have a dinner conversation. Let’s take our world back one kind act at a time. Let’s give the children of today something real to emulate. Mister Rogers had it right when he said, “There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” What are you leaving? #IChooseKindness
Photo credit: Astrid Langedijk
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