What would it take to create a kinder world? A kindness habit could push us closer to caring for one another in spite of our differences.
“Wherever there is a human being there is a chance for kindness.”
“kind-ness (kīn(d)-nəs) noun: The quality or state of being kind” (Merriam-Webster).
What does that look like?
- Waving hello to a friend or smiling at the store clerk when she looks exhausted
- Letting a young mother with two sleepy toddlers step in front of the line
- Opening the door at the post office for the woman juggling packages
You get the idea. I like to think of kindness as all those little things we do to make someone’s day brighter. Individually, they seem small and insignificant. But to the store clerk, the young mom, the overloaded grandmother, it may be the one act that gives them hope.
One day a photo popped up in my Twitter feed with these words.
“Kindness is not an act. It is a lifestyle.”
— Anthony Douglas Williams
The photo pictured a young man helping an elderly woman cross the street. Although the photo and my other examples reflect a single action, I realized kindness is more than a noun. It is more than one moment in time.
Kindness is a lifestyle.
Kindness, the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate, IS a lifestyle.
A lifestyle that we choose every moment of every day.
Some of us find kindness easy, especially toward those we like. The real test comes when we are face-to-face with ingratitude, egoism, or aggression.
Kindness as a lifestyle doesn’t scowl at people not like you. You don’t cast aside people as unlikeable. Those people who do not wear shiny smiles or stroke our need for acceptance and appreciation.
For myself, I find it easy to be kind to my precious grandchildren. When they were babies, I welcomed sticky syrup, piles of toys, and endless games of hide-and-seek. I sighed in frustration, but my arms always stretched wide and open.
They reached the teen years, and I have adapted to cell phones and computer games. I find endless joy in watching them emerge as kind and caring people.
My lifestyle of kindness gets tested on a regular basis. A driver cuts me off making me hit the brakes. The store clerk shrugs off my request for help and walks away. A colleague criticizes the team and refuses to collaborate.
You might say, “Well, we’re not perfect.” No excuse.
Kindness habits grow in daily actions.
If you choose to make kindness a lifestyle, then you must develop a kindness habit. Like any habit, you make it a priority and commit to consistent practice.
I try to nurture my habit every day. Being kind comes easily—until. I’m in a hurry and you can’t make up your mind about white or wheat bread. My voice takes on an edge of sarcasm and obvious impatience. You do not get a warm smile. Period.
When I return to the car, I am disappointed that my actions did not live up to my value of kindness. Those slip-ups remind me that ego and selfishness can blindside my best intentions.
Then, I focus on the small pink rose left on my desk. An extra cookie added to my order.
The rose reminds me that I am loved. A cookie, a small token to thank me for waiting in a long line. Both of these small moments make me smile.
Sometimes, you need to accept kindness to appreciate and understand its impact. Kindness makes a difference.
Will a daily kindness habit and lifestyle make a difference? My guess—absolutely. But we won’t know until we all give it a try.
Kindness, the next steps.
Decide to make kindness a habit.
Commit to one act of kindness every day.
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.