The only time I have ever had regrets about kindness was when I didn’t show it. I have never regretted being too kind to someone, even if it wasn’t received well.
There are plenty of times that I regret not giving the benefit of the doubt or not giving someone another chance or not using kinder words.
I still have this fear of being taken advantage of. I don’t want to be considered a ‘sucker’, or to be duped into an internet scam. Sure, my cynicism has kept me safe so far, but what am I missing out on by thinking that I have to either be cautious or kind? Isn’t it possible to be both?
Kindness isn’t blind. Kindness isn’t weak. Kindness doesn’t have to happen without wisdom or caution. You can be both kind and strong, principled and have boundaries.
Being kind can mean saying no sometimes. It can mean asking challenging questions. It can mean expecting more from someone. But always coming from a place of care and compassion for others.
All that aside, I think that ff someone was to ever criticise me for being too kind, then I think I have won at life.
Every year in February there is the Random Acts of Kindness Day, during which we are encouraged to show small acts of kindness to strangers that we encounter, to make kindness the norm. I love this idea and am encouraged by the movement. As with all parts of generosity, the science behind it proves that it is good for everyone involved, so get on it.
The challenge that I am putting to people (mostly me) this year is, alongside your random acts of kindness to total strangers on February 17, find small random kind things that you can do to your own household.
For some reason, when thinking about participating in random acts of kindness I automatically assume that it will be for someone I have never met before because that’s exciting. To imagine their surprise and delight when I gift them with something makes me happy. I find it harder to think of creating the same experience for those in my family. Perhaps I’m just a terrible person, but it seems to be a more challenging project.
Maybe the difference is the expectation. If I do a random thing once a year to someone I don’t know, then on February 18 no one is waiting expectantly to be surprised and delighted. It’s a ‘no pressure’ type of kindness. Kind of like the ‘one night stand’ version.
If I create a kindness experience for my family, those that I see every day, that see me every day and know me the best, if I have a bad day when I am ‘not as kind’, then they can rightfully ask where my kindness went. I’m not sure if I want to face that sort of scrutiny. Which is crazy because I know that if I can be kind at random intervals to them then it will serve my family well and deepen our love for each other.
So here’s to random acts of kindness everywhere but also in my household on February 17, and hopefully more to come after as it becomes the norm.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible – Dalai Lama
Our strongest memories growing up are connected to how we felt around people. Think back to your primary school years and I guarantee your main memories are from someone either encouraging you or discouraging you. Building you up or tearing you down.
I can remember one specific teacher calling me stupid, and another encouraging me to be better. The second one, I could sense that he could see more in me than what I was displaying at the time. They are essentially the only two things that I remember from those years. A discouraging word from one and a generous act from another.
I am amazed by the teacher who encouraged me, because in the years that have passed since, I have noticed that it is so much easier to discourage. We almost have an in-built ability to tear someone down. But to lift someone up? Well that can be so rare that appears super-human. It doesn’t need to be this way though.
There is a movement to bring us back to one of the fundamental elements of being a person. Kindness. I would call in generosity. There is even a Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) week this month. With a RAK day on February 17.
Why? Because we need it. The people around you are crying out for some encouragement, a kind word, a thoughtful gesture, a hand of friendship.
Also, it is so good for us. Being kind and generous makes our life so much better; science tells us this.
RAK day is an amazing idea. Sprinkling kindness and generosity on people as you go about your day is a great habit to form. It’s really simple to, there are RAK suggestions, from planting a tree, to writing positive sticky notes, complimenting someone on their parking skills or sending an encouraging email. It starts with one act on a particular day, but it can make a significant difference to those around us.
I get the sense we could all use some more kindness in our lives.