I’ve been thinking recently about the value and impact of kindness. Kindness is big news at our house. Teaching it to my little ones could unfortunately be described as a battle at times. And what’s interesting is that unlike learning things like “don’t touch the hot stove” and “cat rhymes with bat,” kindness is a lesson that never ends. It’s a continual process. I often inundate my kids with admonitions like “be kind,” “kind words,” and “kind voice.” I try to convince them that regardless of the situation–for them, regardless of who’s taking what toy from you or who’s trying to wrestle you–you can always choose to act and speak with kindness.
Hmmm. Easy for a Mommy to say. But, I’ll admit it’s not always so easy for a Mommy to do. And since these lessons are often most successfully “caught” rather than taught, I guess that’s a problem. Why is it that we, as adults, so often lose sight of those simple acts of kindness?
With most of these lessons of cultivating gratitude, I’m finding that being thankful for something is the first step in appreciating and incorporating that thing into my life in a more meaningful way. So, I’ve been thinking about acts of kindness. The ones that have impacted me over the years. The things that were perhaps “easy” to a person at the time, but entered MY sphere at a moment when they added fuel to my fire. You see, we never really know when those moments are before us. We never know when some simple kind word or look or action inserts itself into a complex situation, bringing clarity and strength. That’s the power of kindness.
I’m thankful for the professor who took time to have a simple conversation when he learned I was leaving my pursuit of being an architect. His simple statement… “I think you’ll do well there,” began my career as a graphic designer with confidence.
I’m thankful for the friend who pulled some strings to find me a place to live when I needed to get out of a damaging relationship. Without asking any difficult questions.
I’m thankful for the mentor who calmly confirmed my decision to get divorced from my first husband with the simple statment… “I saw your light get dim with him.”
I’m thankful for the blog reader who took time to email a simple message… “This site crackles with life,” at a time when I was questioning whether this whole writing thing was worth my time, when I was having a hard time seeing that “life.”
I’m thankful for the unabashed and spontaneous “I love you” from one of my children, reminding me of why I do all that I do.
I’m thankful for the unsolicited recommendation of a long-time client, opening up new doors as I try to provide for my children as a small business owner.
The list could go on and on. One moment leads to the next in my recollection of those that have made a difference in such simple things. A gift of money freely given. A meal provided at a difficult time. The decision to cover the check at the restaurant. The compliment. The vote of confidence. The kind voice. The smile.
I’m realizing that so many of the epiphanies and “moments of truth” we ardently seek are not accompanied by lighting bolts and booming voices. They are often precipitated by kindness. Found in simple moments all around us. I want to show up for those. I want to give those.