23 May 2017

Kindness

"Always be a little kinder than necessary"
James M. Barrie

A few years ago, I became aware of the One Little Word concept through some blogs I follow.  In a nutshell, the idea is that you choose a word to guide you through the next year.  For instance, if you chose the word "Joy," you would try to guide yourself throughout the year to find, experience, and give joy.  It's a way of teaching yourself another way to be mindful.

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.

6 comments:

Vera said...

So nicely written Bridget.

Dee said...

Beautifully written.

This world has definitely become a more challenging place to live in the last year.

Mereknits said...

Bridget, the news is horrifying, poor innocent children and their families are devastated. You are right kindness in these times is essential and I applaud all of those who helped people in need. I would hope that I would do the same given a chance. you picked a great word for the year.

Tired Teacher said...

A fabulous post, Bridget. Because of the ripple effect, one kindness touches many people. All it takes to start a movement is one person - one act.

Carol W. said...

Such a beautiful post. My word at this moment is 'appreciate'. I need to appreciate more what I have & the people in my life. I have times when I don't thank God, I complain, & I'm not content with my life. I'm cranky or sullen more times than not. I need to appreciate more & whine less. Thank you for your post! God bless you! (Carol in Phoenix, AZ)

elns said...

A lovey post Bridget. I feel your words very much, and I agree. I do try hard to be kind, but I am not too shy about letting people know I think they are being rude (at least this is what the roommates say). Sometimes the world makes me weary. Trying to parent a kid through these times so he doesn't become, "that guy" can be exhausting. I am not patient either. But I see the good, I will try to do good, and having good people like you in the world is heartening.