“When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” ~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
Hear me out, sis. My mind is buzzing with what I want to share with you about kindness, because I have a really hard time understanding why being kind is so hard for people. The truth of the matter is this…when you are kind, even when others are not kind to you, it gives you a sense of peace and contentment that you will not otherwise experience.
Something I tell my girls often is if someone is being unkind to them, it’s typically because they are going through a really hard time, or they weren’t raised to be kind, or they are even possibly jealous. I often tell them to be kind, even if the other person is not kind back; to teach them how to be kind through their actions. I have effectively made close friends from being kind, even when they were not kind to me. Disclaimer: if you are being bullied, you can still be kind, but you do not have to accept that treatment. That is a completely different subject.
A Story From High School
One of my dearest friends in high school, Karl, was not always someone I called a friend. In fact, throughout middle school and the beginning of high school, we were anything but friends. He would frustrate and annoy me something terrible and as we got into high school, his efforts to annoy me were intensified. I could not even stand being in his presence and unfortunately for me, our teachers always sat us together. I think it was God’s way of teaching me patience and ultimately kindness.
During this time, I had the pleasure of growing up next door to my grandparents. I would often visit my grandma after school and would share with her my frustrations about Karl. My grandma was always quick to remind me that there is power in kindness and as I headed out the door to go home, she would send me off with these four simple words that I still recite today: kill him with kindness.
These words gave me the confidence and strength to continue to show him kindness, even when it was hard. It did not make me immune to imaging that I was throat punching him when I would walk away from his harsh words, but nonetheless, I walked away. For nearly two years I showed Karl kindness even when he was not kind to me. If he said something mean, I would just smile and walk away.
He and I had lockers close to one another our freshman year in high school and he would intentionally stand near my locker trying his best to get under my skin. Those moments of killing him with kindness were frustrating for me but eventually they paid off when one day at the end of our freshman year he walked up to me and asked me why I was so nice to him, when he was so mean to me? I simply replied, “Because I choose kindness.” From that day forward Karl and I were fast friends.
The kindness my grandma encouraged me to show Karl impacted his life in a way that he had never experienced, and it impacted my life in a way I had never experienced. My grandma taught me one of the biggest lessons that continues to bear fruit in my life; there is power in kindness. Had I reacted out of anything but kindness, I can assure you Karl and I would have never become friends.
We were such close friends after that experience, that he would call me on nights our favorite show, Dawson’s Creek, was on and we would watch the show together over the phone. He gave me the nickname Joey and I gave him the nickname Dawson.
He became one of my dearest friends. He opened up to me and shared some struggles with me, which shed some light as to why he was being unkind during that time. His vulnerability and transparency with me, as a friend, shed light as to why he was behaving the way he was. As Karl and I grew closer, he decided he wanted to go to church with me, which he swore he would never do. I will never forget looking over at him during church and seeing that big smile on his face giving me the goofy thumbs up that he would give me and mouthing, “I get it now.” We had a wonderful friendship for the two years that I was blessed to call Karl my friend; I still cherish those memories today.
Four months before we graduated from high school and only a few short weeks after Karl came to church with me, I received the devastating news that Karl had been in a tragic car accident. I was completely devastated on so many levels, but I found peace in knowing I made an impact on him before he left this earth and he made an impact on me. I will never forget that friendship we developed those two and a half years of high school.
Kindness does not always come easy, but if we are intentional about being kind, we can change our own life and the lives of others.
I do not expect you girls to be perfect (as I tell my girls). We will all have our moments, but I beg you girls…be kind. Be kind when being kind is hard. Be kind when you want to lash out and stomp your feet and get all up in someone’s chili. Be kind. You never know how your kindness will change someone’s life.
Ways you can practice kindness today and everyday
• Smile at a stranger
• Give a compliment to someone
• Sit with someone who is eating alone
• Send a letter or card to someone who has been on your mind
• Open a door for someone
• Let someone go ahead of you in line
• Befriend a kid in school who does not have many friends
• Pay it forward
• Spend time with an elderly person (you will make their day and learn so much)
• Serve those less fortunate
• Stand up for others
• Show grace and forgiveness for people who did you wrong
Every week I will post stories of kindness, other experiences I’ve had with kindness, videos, and TEDtalks.
The Kindness Effect
I want to hear your stories. Stories where your kindness changed someone’s life or where someone’s kindness changed your life. I will feature those stories (anonymously) on my blog. Let’s change this world with kindness. We can do it! You can email me at email@example.com.
Go set the world on fire!