Putting kindness into practice


In middle school, our motto was always “kindness is our strength.” Middle school might have failed me in some ways, but in this way, I failed middle school. I didn’t learn what is possibly the most valuable lesson.

I’ve always heard to “kill people with kindness.” “If there’s nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” “Treat others how you wish to be treated.”

As terrible as it sounds, I have not lived up to these goals that everyone should try to achieve. While it depends on the situation, there are many times when I tend to let people walk all over me. It is very easy for me to dislike people or things based off of one small detail and only focus on the negatives. This is not a very good trait to possess. And I know that. So, I want to challenge myself, as well as readers, to just be kinder people.

There are some people who have told me to stop living in a bubble, that I need to drop the idea that society cares about people and stop thinking that my feelings will always be considered. I know these things are not true. I am well aware that the world, unfortunately, is not always nice to people, especially the ones that deserve it the most. I am also well aware of the fact that not everyone is considerate and my feelings will inevitably be hurt at some point. I am not naive to reality. But, there is absolutely no way that any of us can put ourselves exactly in someone else’s shoes. We cannot feel that it is our place to judge others and their situations, especially when we don’t know the circumstances. It’s not our place. At all. And even though I know this, I constantly fall short of my own expectations.

I will be the first to admit that I’m a judgmental person. I often based my actions and reactions off of how I feel about the people I’m surrounded by. But, I constantly preach to others that we don’t know what people are going through, so be kind, no matter what. Why don’t I try to follow this as much as I can? I don’t know.

Which is exactly why I want to practice kindness. One action, one word, can change a person’s day. A person’s year. A person’s life. There are too many people on this Earth that already feel that they aren’t enough, that they don’t deserve this world. And that needs to change because no matter what someone has done or what they’ve been through, it doesn’t make them any less than the next guy.

Life is all about circumstance and choice. Sometimes people feel so stuck that the opportunity to make the right choice seems so far gone and then they just travel further down that bad path because they feel like there’s no way out. And that bad path can lead to giving up. And no one, absolutely no one, should get to a point so low.

We can’t feel others’ feelings. We can’t gauge how much a situation will affect them, positively or negatively. We are all only ourselves and no one else. So while we’re here, why don’t we try harder to just be kind? Live in the moment and have fun, but be nice while doing it. If the person working drive-thru is rude, tell them, genuinely, “thank you, have a nice day.” If the person walking on the sidewalk is mad that it’s raining and looks upset and drained, give them your umbrella.

It all seems small, but in the grand scheme of things, one thing can change everything. So don’t judge that person walking next to you. Don’t feel like you’re better than people just because they make different decisions than you. We are all just trying to get through this life and we should strive for that middle school lesson to be our motto. “Kindness is our strength.”