"Always be a little kinder than necessary"
James M. Barrie
I decided to try, and chose the word "Kindness." Mainly because I knew in my heart that *true* kindness was difficult for me. I have an easy time being kind to those I love, or to those who are kind to me. I think everyone finds that pretty simple, even a no-brainer. But it has always been hard for me to be kind to those who are not that way in return, or to those who didn't somehow measure up to my expectations. I thought that perhaps if I could consciously become a kinder person, I would become a better and happier person.
At first, it was truly difficult. I am not patient, and do not suffer fools gladly. I also tend to be annoyed by things that don't even concern me, and am quick to judge. I would find myself in my usual mode, and then remember that I was trying to be kind. (I mean, I even bought a necklace with a pendant that said "Be kind" to help remind me!)
The funny thing was, as the year progressed, I started to realize that I had internalized my desire to be kinder and was often acting that way without having to consciously remind myself. I tried to look at people and situations in a different light, which was a hard thing for me to do.
It was really hard. It still is. But today I'm a much kinder, much better person than I was before. The One Little Word has really stuck with me, and there are several times a day I think of it.
These days, the world does not seem as kind as it may have been before. It's difficult to turn on the TV, read a newspaper, or log in to social media and not come across some event, attack, behavior that is appalling, tragic, or inhuman.
I think that in this world, in these times, kindness is more important than ever. And in a lot of small ways, I think it is stronger than ever. Reading about the attack last night in Manchester, England, where completely innocent people attending a pop music concert fell victim to pure unadulterated evil, has emphasized this to me. People in the town immediately started doing what they could to help. Hotels opened their doors to those looking for a safe place to be. Law enforcement did not just look for those who set off the bomb, they went into crisis mode to track individuals and provide what information they could as soon as it was available to them. This morning on Twitter, there were so many messages from individuals offering people a place to stay, a home-cooked meal, or even just a cup of tea. These are acts of kindness, maybe not ones offered every day to every random person, but there nonetheless when needed.
Sadly, there are more kinds of evil in the world than ever. Fanaticism in its many forms seems to have increased. Innocence, once lost, cannot be regained. Evil, once unleashed, cannot be obliterated from existence. Things can seem bleak, hopeless, and it's easy to be overwhelmed.
But if there is one thing I have learned in my own journey, it is this: there are no small kindnesses. Every time you are kind to someone else just because you can be, you are standing up to evil and helping to restore humanity.
Be kind when you can be. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard.