2017 - Let Us Be Kind
“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Mark Twain
So 2017 has barged through the door, you’ve set your goals and your aspirations to being a better you. You’ve got your What to Do’s written down, you’ve got a plan, you’re on a mission to achieving great things this year. Awesome sauce. Somewhere on your list, your How To Be Great list of chapters, bright and bold on your vision board should be two words - BE KIND. Two small words, six letters that when strung together and implemented in your life are life changing. For you and those around you.
2017 - Kindness Counts!
It’s my thought that 2017 should be the Year of Being Kind. I don’t know how you feel but for me personally, I thought 2016 was a bit Brutal. Harsh. Sad. Frightening. Life-altering. Upsetting. The list can go on. Not that there weren’t some great moments because there were. But the brights spots dimmed in comparison to some of the tragic truths of the past year. Take a look.
Terrorism had an effect on everyone this past 2016. There were a recorded 1,813 attacks that resulted in 15,976 fatalities. Just short of 16,000 people lost their lives due to the use of violence in pursuit of political aims. Many of these attacks took place in the Baghdad area but make no mistake that the attacks were not central to one location. On July 14, 2016 a cargo truck deliberately drove into crowds gathered in Nice, France. People were gathered to celebrate Bastille Day and the attack resulted in 86 deaths and 434 injured. On June 12, 2016 49 people were killed and 53 wounded by a terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida. Syria, Kabul, Turkey, Brussels - the list tragically goes on and on. Globally - no, I would not consider 2016 a “friendly” year.
Probably some of the most controversial and unkind debates in our history, the presidential race for the United States of America sparked hostility, created a fissure with our social interactions with one another and in equal measure brought the country together and divided it. You couldn’t go on social media of any sort without being faced with a barrage of Trump and Clinton opinions, ‘facts’, media interpretations and even I stayed up well past 3 am to watch the election results. From mud-slinging to name calling to antics that I can only equate to that of a 2 year old throwing a tantrum, it certainly was a race where it’s debatable if anyone truly won. Not what I consider “nice” by any means.
Yeah, 2016 was not a bad year but for me personally I took some hits. We had a tremendous amount of loss in our family. A son, nephew and grandson, brothers (yes that’s plural), close friends, beloved pets right before the holidays. We were faced with a lot of health issues - liver cancer, lung cancer, pet tumors, spots that needed looking at, general malaise and ‘blah’. Job changes that put loved ones forefront in a position of high risk and danger, challenges with our children that left them feeling not liked or valued, applications to college that were given a thumbs down. We had friends that faced challenges that were heart-breaking, had homes that were in danger of being lost, bills that couldn’t always be paid and triumphs that became crushing defeats. I’m grateful to have weathered the storm, I hold tight to those moments that were great and remain steadfast in my hope that there are brighter days ahead. But I’m not sorry to be saying good-bye to 2016.
So how do we change it?
Now that we’ve gotten all of the depressing, woe-is-me, let’s not check that book out ever again BAD stuff out of the way- how do we make things different for 2017? Obviously there are some things that are out of our control but what can we control? How can we individually make a difference, carve a new path that promotes something positive, uplifting, kick up your heels and fist pump kind of day to day life? Two words. Six letters. Be Kind.
The ways in which we can be kind are huge. HUGE! If you really stop to think about it, the majority of your interactions throughout your day, most if not all of your thoughts whether left up inside your cranium, written down or spoken, your personal reflections - they are all impacted by kindness. And who controls whether or not those interactions, thoughts and reflections are kind? Wait for it….YOU. It’s all up to you. You shoulder that load, that responsibility, that awesome opportunity to positively brighten, change, uplift. Kewl…(that’s 17 year old daughter speak for COOL!!!!)
Ways we can BE KIND
Find a cause and support it.
Whether you’re an animal lover, a women’s rights activist, a supporter of the LGBTQ community or maybe you are a lover of Girl Scout Cookies - whatever you have a passion for GET INVOLVED. There are countless ways to help and support and be kind to the causes that we love whether it’s through donating your dollars, donating your time, educating yourself on what your cause is all about and where they are making strides in a positive direction. I caution you however; bring kindness with you, bring some compassion for ideas that may be different than yours. It’s not about ramming your cause down someone else’s throat. It’s about you doing you and showing some goodwill towards a cause that you believe in. Huge difference between the two sides of the coin - one promotes awareness and hope for a ‘something better’ while the other side can easily promote a message that is distorted by the concept of ‘I’m right and you’re wrong.” Know each side and how to cultivate awareness and change in a kind manner before you get involved.
Think before you well…THINK.
So often our thoughts are the drivers of the bus of our actions. When you start to pay attention to your thoughts, really listen and tune in to the direction your thoughts take, you might be a teensy bit mortified by how often we focus on the negative first. Work hard at seeing the beauty, the good, the positive of a situation and relaying those thoughts on the inside. Trust me - the outside, your actions, your words are a pretty exact mirror image of what’s going on in those noggins of ours. As my son’s QB coach tells him - positive thoughts breed positive thoughts breed positive thoughts. With time you’ll find that positive thoughts, kind thoughts will be what you naturally turn to and how is that not an AWESOME thing!!!
Be accountable to yourself.
Add ‘an act of kindness’ to your daily to-do list and then reflect on what that act was. When my goslings were little and life was not so hectic we used to go around the table at dinner and talk about one good thing that happened in our day. Mind you, there were days when someone had to take a pass while they scrambled to find that one good thing but by the time we made it back around the second or third time, inevitably they came up with something good about their day - even if that one good thing was only HALF of my soggy peanut butter and jelly was smooshed. Same can be said with kindness. I’m not talking grandiose acts of kindness such as going and paying off someone’s layaway or filling their car with gas (I drive a silver 03 saturn ion if so). Hold the door open for someone. And when you do, look at them and smile and wish them a nice day. And Mean It. And that, my friends, brings us to number 4 and what I feel is the true meat of the kindness taco.
Teach your children well.
Kids learn from us. Good, bad and ugly we are their role models. And you would be amazed at what little super soaking sponges they are. And they will replicate your kindness. Young men learn to stand up and shake hands by watching their dads, their uncles, their role models do it. A young woman learns about compassion towards her friends, how gossip gone wrong can be stopped by one person saying “I won’t engage.” That goes not just for the words that come out of our mouths but our actions as well. Like breeds like breeds like. And we are lucky in this day and age that there are so many tools that can help our children with kindness and positivity. I actually just got a new book series from a friend “Find Your Awesome” (love, love, love Amazon). All about teaching kids how to find their awesome, be kind, find the positive in every day life. So super, so awesome, so REAL and, to be honest, a quick easy read for me to sometimes readjust my kindness compass on the days that I struggle.
Mean what you say and say what you mean.
Listen, we have all been there. How many times have we said “Oh that’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you!” and maybe inside our heads we’re thinking “They are so not deserving of that…” We’ve faked being nice, faked a compliment, faked caring about a situation a friend is going through, blah blah blah. Yikes - makes us all a bunch of mean ole fakers…. And it’s so easy to change. Mean what you say to someone. Mean it, feel it, genuinely in your heart try to want the best for them, be happy for their happiness. I promise you - the good it does for your own heart is every bit as amazing as the good that it does for theirs. For example - say you’re having a disagreement with your spouse or there is just some lingering irritation with one another. There is a difference in option A: when your husband is walking the door and you shout out, “Have a great day honey!” while maybe giving them the evil eye or perhaps another salute (I will not spell that one out) behind their back versus option B - saying it and doing your best to mean it - regardless of what transpired beforehand. Choosing option B, if it’s genuine, will go a long way to dissolving the irritation. Facts. Kindness, genuine kindness is the quickest squasher of anger, a slayer of sadness, releaser of annoyances than any over the counter remedy out there. If you’re going to use the breath to say it than mean what you say.
If you can’t say anything nice, than say NOTHING AT ALL.
Zip your lips. Lashing out, being mean, saying something ugly and hurtful - nowhere in that mess is the word KIND. If it’s not going to make someone feel good about themselves, good about what they’re wearing, proud of their accomplishment than just be quiet. Meditate. Hum a tune. Go for a run. Eat a sandwich. But shush it.
You got your own shoes - don’t assume their shoes are just like yours.
Follow me? Ummm - okay let me explain. How often do you assume? The person that cut you off in traffic is an arrogant jerk. The child eating pop tarts for breakfast on the bus wearing dirty jeans. The rude cashier that looks disinterested and could care less that you’re in a hurry. How surprised would you be to find out that jerk that cut you off - has a child that was taken to the hospital from a concussion at a football game and that’s the dad rushing to be with his son. The child on the bus, covered in pop tarts and dirt? Her mom is a single mother and is working two jobs and that second grader, she has to get herself dressed and on the bus every morning. The cashier that you wanted to strangle at Walmart? Her mother has dementia and she is faced with having to put her in a nursing home and has no idea how she’s going to pay for it. We have not walked a mile in other people’s shoes and oh how often we assume that WE KNOW IT ALL. We don’t. Be kind. Cut off? Who cares. The world didn’t stop turning and hope that whomever did it had a reason why. The child on the bus - a kind remark about what a nice young man or lady they are and look at that - breakfast on the go! So smart too! And that cashier with the weight of the world on her shoulders - thank you so much for your help today ma’am. It’s appreciated. A kind word or gesture can be life altering for the recipient. And who isn’t deserving of a kind word?
My own kindness story
I have own little kind story and it’s one that I think I’ll remember for always. Just this past December, I was flying home for my annual girls weekend with my best friend. The weekend consists of two days of a lot of beverages, a lot of laughs and I mentioned the beverages right? Well, we are on a 4 1/2 hour flight and the flight attendants stopped to offer us a beverage and one of them remarked on my necklace and how beautiful she thought it was. Now this necklace, I never wear it. It’s gorgeous and I had put it on and taken it off at least three times before I left for the airport. I finally left it on with the thought that there was some reason I was compelled to wear it and the reason why would present itself. Well - TA DA!!!! The flight attendant was beautiful - almost waif like. She was smiling and friendly to all of the passengers but there was something about her that just struck me as sad. A look in her eyes, the slight droop in her shoulders, just a feeling I suppose. As she was getting our drinks I removed the necklace and after she put our drinks down I placed the necklace in her hand and told her I would like her to have it. She was stunned and refused several times. I quickly told her the story of how I couldn’t decide whether or not to wear it, etc. and that it would mean the world to me if she kept it. She did finally keep it after thanking me several times.
The next time she came by us she was like a different person, proudly sporting her new bling. It was like she was lit up from the inside out. She stopped by midway through the flight, grabbed my hand and with tears in her eyes said you have no idea how much I needed something like this today. And dropped a little note in my lap. I gave her a hug as I left the plane and wished her well. A small gesture, a bauble, an act of kindness that had tremendous impact - as much on her as it did on me.
This kindness extends to those that have lost and it is perhaps the most challenging of all extensions as it demands patience and the ability to realize it’s not about you. Be there for someone that is grieving and be there selflessly. My heart breaks for those in my family that have lost - a sister that lost her only son, a father that has lost a brother, my parents that have lost their beloved Boston. I have lost too but I AM NOT THEM and their heartache is unique to them. A quick note that says I’m thinking about you, an offer to go for coffee or a movie, something, any small act that is kind and I’m content if it goes unnoticed. As long as it’s genuine and from a good place, kindness is kindness and I’m committed to paying it forward whenever I can.
Let’s start an epidemic of goodwill, positive first and, yes, kindness counts in 2017. It doesn’t cost anything and it will not only make others feel better but you will feel better about YOU. It’s good for the heart, it’s good for the mind and it’s a beautiful example for future generations. A virtual Congo line of six alphabetic symbols that when maximized to their fullest, when embraced and are a part of our daily mission statement, the starting words in every chapter of our 2017 novel - well they have the potential to be life changing for not just each of us individually but everyone around us and YES WE CAN! Two words, six letters. Be Kind.
“Hold the door, say ‘please’, say ‘thank you’
Don’t steal, don’t cheat and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb
But always stay humble and kind” Tim McGraw