You are kind when you use nice words. You are kind when you hold the elevator for the person running down the hall. You are kind when you smile at someone across the room who looks like they’re having a horrible day. You are kind.
So often, we liken being kind to being nice. Which is true in many situations, but being kind goes far beyond simply being nice. It means acting out with intention to serve, care, and have compassion for others. Do we do THAT?
I don’t know about you, but I tend to extend kindness to people who are kind to me. It only makes sense. Why would I want to be nice to someone who is rude to me? And then I thought about it and I thought…I don’t always know what other people are going through. It’s not my job to decide if they deserve my kindness. They just do!
I’m thinking about working with kids at summer day camp. I remember mediating so many arguments last summer where the problem was “he/she isn’t being nice to me.” It’s really easy to end the argument by telling kids to play with other kids who actually ARE nice to them. But I remember one specific battle between two girls that lasted for weeks. My group was 9 and 10 year old boys and girls who were just discovering how clique-y people can be. I remember sitting on a rock with a girl who was crying because another girl wasn’t being nice to her and kept saying she wasn’t going to be her friend anymore. Consoling her in that situation was hard, but it was even more difficult to talk to the girl who was causing all the drama. She was adamant that she could pick her friends and since she had decided not to be friends with the other girl, she didn’t care that she was crying or upset. She could say whatever she wanted because they were no longer friends. And here is where this 10 year old learned what it means to be kind. I told her that even if you are not friends with someone, that doesn’t give you the right to be mean to them.
Think about it. Aren’t there plenty of people that you just don’t like? Usually those people are different from you in some way, but as adults, we learn how to coexist with people we don’t like (usually). We say hello, we talk about work, we don’t make plans to spend time together, but we don’t wish horrible things on one another. Right?! When we meet someone who needs something from us, and we have the ability to give it to them, we should do that. That is kindness.
So now I’m trying to decide how I extend kindness each day. And I am really struggling. Do I actually live my life in a kind way? I am doing a lot of reflecting. I donate to charity when I can, I hold the door for people, I make conversation in lines, I ask questions and give what I can when people need it…but can I do more? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this picture is hanging right next to my bed. I see it every morning when I wake up, every night before I go to sleep, and every time I walk into my room. It’s a constant reminder of the person that I want to be and that God wants me to be.
Like my hand reflection?;)
I make a ton of mistakes and God forgives me. How can I extend that grace to others? I know that I am a nice person (I think), but what do I do? I don’t want to just say nice things and mean well…I want to take action and make a difference. And I don’t want to do it for a pat on the back. I want to do it because I am showing grace to others just like God shows grace to me.
We could all stand to be kind and buy coffee for the person behind us in line. We could give to a friend or family member or neighbor in need. We could even work with our community to do something bigger. And I want to do those things too. But I want to be more aware of little things that I can do every day. So that is my goal. 🙂
There’s a reason why we constantly see “random acts of kindness” floating around social media. Don’t you get your own little feeling of happiness even if you were not involved? Just reading about the goodness makes you feel inclined to do more good. Read the study here. 🙂
Surround yourself with like minded people. Be intentional. Do for others. And be kind.