“Be Kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle.” - Unknown
Nice. I don’t like that word. I never have. It feels so vanilla…quite inauthentic. When I was a young girl and my mother told me I looked nice, I doubted my outfit choice. Earlier this week when a new friend said I was a nice lady, I walked away wondering “What is that supposed to mean?”
But the word Kind is different. Kind implies Choice. Kind includes consideration of others. Kind infers that regardless of the situation the person takes the high road.
I don’t want to be nice; I want to be Kind.
Kindness is treating others the way I want to be treated. Kindness requires Self-Awareness – identifying how I am thinking or feeling as well as knowing my strengths and weaknesses. It means that I recognize when I’m having a hard day and give my colleagues a heads up about it. It means that I acknowledge that if my children need to talk through something it is better to wait until after I eat dinner rather than sorting through when I’m feeling hangry.
Kindness means that I am thinking of others and not just myself. To take it a step further, when I show concern and work for the wellbeing of others and take the time to let others know they are important, I am being Kind and Caring.
So why is it difficult for us to be Kind to people in our big world these days?
Ultimately, I believe the answer is that many of us are living in Fear. Whether it’s news of the latest school shooting or worries about the cost of gas prices, we are afraid of what is happening around us, thinking that it is happening to us. Therefore, we place ourselves in the role of victim. Too often we forget that we have the choice about how we respond to situations. That is the key to taking back our power. Recognizing that we have the opportunity and power to choose what we do and say enables us to rise above the chaos and extend ourselves in Love, which is the opposite of Fear.
This is the work that each of us must do for ourselves, choosing Love over Fear. Although we have parents and teachers telling children to get along, each child must decide for themselves that they value relationships. And each of us adults must choose to live authentically, modeling for our children at school and at home what it means to show up for the people in our world even when we are tired or they are sad or we are hurting or they are mean.
If we drill down to the heart of the matter, we must first be Kind to ourselves, accepting the fact that we are on a journey. We are not perfect, nor will we ever be. Instead, we are learning and growing each day. Such self-acceptance and self-compassion spills over naturally to those around us, young and old.
Choosing to Be Kind
Be Honest. – Take inventory each day…or more than once a day if disturbing events occur. Acknowledge how you are thinking and feeling. Name it and share it.
Exercise Self-Control. – It’s okay not to be okay, but it is not okay to hurt others or yourself. Manage your words, attitudes and actions. If you need to process big emotions, take a walk or write in your journal, instead of taking it out on others…or kicking your dog.
Get Creative. – Look for opportunities to practice Kindness. Bake cookies for your elderly neighbor. Hold the door open for your co-worker who is carrying a heavy load. Send encouraging notes to the children in your care. Remember, a small act can change someone’s day or even someone’s life.
- Wonder by RJ Palacio
- I Like Your Buttons by Sarah Mamil Lamstein
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
About the author
Tamara Fyke is an educator and social entrepreneur with a passion for kids, families, and urban communities. She is the creator and author of Love In A Big World, which provides mental health, SEL, and wellness curriculum and content. During quarantine, Tamara created MusiCity Kids, an online educational show for kids ages 6-12 that addresses health, movement, character development, STEAM, and more.