Be Kind

I'm sure all of you have read accounts of random kindnesses: people paying the toll for the car behind them at the tollbooth and other such surprises. The part that is so surprising is the randomness: being kind to a stranger is a surprise, right? But often, the people we really need to be kinder to are closer to home.

I find that it is extremely easy to neglect those little acts of kindness at home. It is easy to forget to be kind to my spouse, for example. It's not that I wish to hurt his feelings. It's just that I ASSUME I am being kind, when mostly I am not. You all know what happens when one ASSUMES, right? I'm afraid I am guilty of this on a regular basis.

So what is the trick to becoming kinder?

I think step one has to be SLOWING DOWN. When we are rushing through our days, trying to fit in another chore or meeting or phonecall or errand, we tend to miss things. The busier your life, the more details you are probably neglecting. I know it is tough. There is certainly a lot to do on everyone's list. But caring for the people who really matter in your life has to be more important than some of those chores. Maybe a couple of things can wait a day? Or even a week?

I have noticed lately that my oldest daughter has become a very thoughtful and caring person. She hides it well, behind a facade of sarcasm. But I have been surprised by little gifts she has brought me, things she knows I will like, that she has picked up here and there. Now keep in mind that this teenager is a full-time student in college with plenty of her own "stuff" to worry about and absolutely no income. Just the fact that she would occasionally think of me blows my mind. Sometimes kindness is surprising when it ISN'T coming from a stranger!

And the kindness that is most important and most often severely lacking is the kindness we need to show ourselves. I am an egregious offender in this category. When I witness women actually showing themselves kindness, it hits me like a smack in the face! Why don't I treat myself this way? There must be some Puritan part of me that thinks it is wrong or self-indulgent or shameful. But showing yourself some loving kindness is vital for filling your own well. How are you going to have enough time or energy for loving others if you are constantly neglecting your own needs and desires? I know the answer: you won't!

As you make your way through your busy day today, maybe you can give yourself a few minutes for a break. Maybe you can just breathe or meditate. Maybe you can sit on a park bench and admire the beauty of nature as she blossoms into spring. Maybe you can give a gift of your attention to your spouse or a friend. Discover what is possible.