Kindness can be hard. Some days kindness seems like a mountain we just can not climb, or even look at. Or we don’t even see it.
The author George Saunders told a great story at a convocation ceremony in 2013 that talked about kindness being hard, but not being kind enough one of his greatest regrets. Not being kind enough was one of his regrets. That stopped me in my tracks. As he was navigating through his 50’s his biggest regret was not being kind enough. His speech was about a time in his earlier life, a situation he remembers like it was yesterday, where he was not kind to a girl at school and to this day regrets it.
I recently heard a similar story from a 93 year old friend of mine who told me a story where she was unkind to another. She was reflecting on this story, after 60 years, and wanted to share it as she was full of regret for not being kind that day, to that person. She shared with me that afternoon how she felt about this memory. She could not take it back [her unkindness], nor could she find the person to apologize for her inability to be kind at that moment.
I decided to dig in and see if there are more stories like this, where people regretted not being kind in past situations. There were many. And the regret was deep for these individuals.
I think we can all remember a time when we were not kind. Some of us have been able to say I’m sorry to the person we felt we did not treat with the kindness they deserved nor the kindness we know we are capable of showing. If we were unable to say I am sorry directly to that person, many of us have unpacked why we were not kind that day, to that person, at that moment, and tried to change our ways. Perhaps we have not been successful 100% of the time, but we are trying our best to be as kind as we can to others, to the planet and to animals. None of us want to live with regrets and kindness is easy to do. It is once you have the tools to be kind in all situations.
If adults in their later years are having these thoughts about kindness, recognize they have regrets about their actions and remember when they were not kind, this is a valuable lesson for all of us. How we respond to others is something that we remember. If we build our kindness and giving muscles at an early age, perhaps we can use those muscles more. We can act in ways that we won’t regret and know that we have acted in ways through out our lives that leave us in peace.
Teaching our kids at a very young age to be kind individuals is a powerful life lesson that we can pass to them, easily. By teaching our kids that kindness and giving is easy, that kindness and giving is a human trait that we will be proud of, that being kind and giving to others lets us live a better life without regrets. We can take the ‘hard’ of kindness and giving by teaching our kids how to be kind daily, and help them build that kindness and giving muscle so it does not become hard, it becomes a part of them. And we can do the same for ourselves in the process.
Choose how you want to share these quotes with your kids as you teach them about giving each day. Life is hard enough some days, so why not use these quotes to take the ‘hard’ out of kindness and make kindness easy!
“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.” – Kid President
“To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world.” -Dr. Seuss
“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But, people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
“Keep shining beautiful one. The world needs your light.” – Unknown
“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou
“If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.” – Dolly Parton
“It’s cool to be kind.”
“If you can’t think of anything nice to say, you’re not thinking hard enough.” – Kid President
“Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching” – C.S. Lewis
“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” – Napoleon Hill
“If you think someone could use a friend, be one.”
“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” – John Templeton
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
“Have courage and be kind. Where there is kindness there is goodness, and where there is goodness there is magic.” – Disney’s Cinderella
Join us in making giving and kindness a natural reflex during our day. The 365give Challenge has a ton of giving ideas that make giving easy. You can join as family, a school or a community group with all the resources and ideas at your fingertips. We have made giving easy, and our members agree! Membership is free and open to anyone who wants to be kind every day!