Wow, I didn’t realize exactly how long it had been since I blogged. This school year has been quite a challenge, and it seems all my energies have been focused on my kids. I also try to keep things light and positive here, and some days I just didn’t think I could do that. While I don’t make resolutions, the new year is a good time to review everything in my life and refocus on the things that really matter.
I don’t make resolutions, but I have determined to be kinder in the new year. My family is focusing on these 10 ways we can be kinder to those around us, and maybe make our little corner of the world a little brighter.
- Smile more, especially at those people who don’t look like they smile much. They may have forgotten how, so we’re going to try to remind them.
- Acknowledge people, especially those in service jobs. Say “Good Morning!” to the bus driver, “Thank you, Steve!” to the server at the restaurant (but please use the server’s actual name), “Hello” or “thank you” to the janitor cleaning the bathroom at the public building we’re in.
- Help those who need help. One of the favorite things my oldest like to do when we’re at the grocery store is help someone in the handicapped parking load their groceries, then take their shopping cart back to the store for them with a happy “Have a great day!” He’ll also do this for a parent who needs to load a child in the car. It’s amazing what a small thing to him, like picking up something an elderly person has dropped and would have trouble picking up, can mean so much to another person.
- Show respect for everyone. My kids (and I) will approach a person in uniform, any uniform (police, military, etc) and thank them for their service. “Sir” and “Ma’am” frequently pepper their conversations with people older than them, which makes the teenagers at the movie theater chuckle when they say “Thank you, ma’am” for tearing their tickets. My son has learned to hold the door not only for me and his sister, but for anyone. If we take the bus, I don’t even have to prompt him to give up his seat. He did once get snapped at by a feminist, a woman about 50, who testily informed him she didn’t need his seat, so he just calmly looked at another standing woman of about 25 and offered his seat to her. She smiled, said “Thank you for being such a gentleman!” (quite loudly so the feminist – and everyone else on the bus – could hear) and took the seat.
- Don’t keep bringing up people’s mistakes, especially if they’ve paid the price. I don’t like to have my past mistakes thrown in my face, so I try very hard not to do that to others. Even people who make serious mistakes that may have resulted in the death of someone (like drunk driving) deserve a chance to rebuild their lives and move on, especially if they are truly repentant and served time. Every one of us has made mistakes, some worse than others, but we all should help each other move past them.
- Choose to be kind, even when someone is not kind to you. We cannot control how other people act, but we can control how we react to them.
- Focus on the positive as much as possible. This is harder than it sounds. My husband and I don’t watch the news and we’re selective about the news we read online. It’s not that we want to isolate ourselves from the real world, it’s that we found ourselves in a darker place than we wanted to be when we read or heard about all the meanness in the world, so we choose to look for the good in the world instead.
- Be kind to the homeless. Yes, some of them are scammers and make more money than most of us, but some are legit. When I was much younger, I was walking with a friend and he gave a panhandler some money, and I said the standard “you know he’ll probably just buy booze,” and my friend shrugged, “what he does with it is on him. My job is to show kindness.” We carry lunch sacks in our car that contain a bottle of water, a protein bar, fruit chews, and a couple of dollars, and we’ll give that to the panhandlers we see from the car. If we’re walking and someone holds out their hand or is playing a guitar or something, we drop a dollar or two. And look them in the eye and smile at them. That’s our job.
- Be thankful that you have the ability to be kind.
- Speak kindly, in person, online, always, and everywhere. The anonymity of the internet does not give anyone the right to be mean, nasty, rude, or ugly. We can’t always control how people take what we say, and sometimes things that we think we’re saying kindly don’t come out that way, but still try.
I’d love to hear your stories of kindness. I wish all of you a happy – and kind – new year, and in the words of Rufus in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “Be excellent to each other!”