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November 15, 2015

Kindness is one of the most important attributes that humanity possesses. It embodies empathy, concern and most importantly goodness. It is freely given and yet it is invaluable. However, it is something we rarely consider. We each go through our day without recognizing the many opportunities we have to be kind to others. How different our world would be if we would made kindness a priority instead of an afterthought. 

Life can be incredibly difficult for countless reasons, but the kindness we show to others can ease the challenges that we all face. Each one of us have experienced moments when out of the blue someone was kind to us. The fact that we have not forgotten such acts, clearly demonstrate their power. Kindness is remembered because of how it makes us feel.

Certainly the need for kindness is all around us. If we will take the time to observe our neighborhood, our workplace, our community and our society we will see endless chances to share kindness with those who need it. Fortunately, it is a human quality that we have complete control over. No matter what else is going on in our lives, we can always make the choice to be kind.

Kindness is important because how we relate to other people is based, in large measure, on whether they make us feel good or bad. It determines if we want to enjoy their company or avoid them at all costs. And one of the best ways to make a person feel good is to be kind to them. There are many times in life when we can be beaten down by events over which we have no control. We can become weary and hope can be elusive. It is when we are struggling that a simple act of kindness can mean so much.

Kindness does not require money or authority. It has no relation to power, position or prestige. Anyone, in any situation, can be kind.

For years I handed out meals downtown to individuals who were homeless, and I have watched many people who were hungry open the bag of food, tear the sandwich in half and share it with another person who was afraid to approach my car. These men and women had absolutely nothing in the world to give but their kindness.

Kindness brings people together and allows them to share a moment in time.

Several times each year a group of mothers of some of our clients come to the Meadows and prepare a luncheon for the staff. The food is incredible, and it is one of the few times when all the staff members get to sit down and enjoy a meal together. Everyone looks forward to it, but the only reason it happens is because of the kindness of these women. They willingly contribute their time and effort to make a special day for us that we appreciate.

Kindness can ease the heaviest of life’s burdens.

A few years ago, as one of my family battled through the final stages of her fight with cancer, our Executive Director and our VP of Operations allowed me to take off every Monday for several months so I could take my turn staying with her. They didn’t have to do that. We were very busy at the time, and when I’m not at work it falls on them to cover for me, but they shared genuine kindness at a time when it meant the most.

The vast majority of people are naturally kind. They want to treat others well, and they would like to do the right thing. However, it is easy to get so caught up in our own lives and problems that we overlook those in need, not because we don’t care but because we are preoccupied. That is why we must try to remember that, even though we each have our own worries and concerns to deal with, it is important to make the effort to be kind to those around us.

Unfortunately, there is so much negativity in the world that a simple act of kindness stands out as the exception in our daily experience. That is why when you are kind to someone they do not forget. It makes an impression. It creates a bond that is shared in a personal way. A smile, a kind word or a compliment only takes a moment and yet it can mean so much to another person.

Genuine kindness reflects our character and demonstrates who we really are. While it is true that in many professions you are expected to be kind and your pay is based, at least in part, on how you treat customers, patients or those who are vulnerable, we should not focus on receiving something in return. The feeling we get when we are kind to others is the real reward.

Kindness can be spectacular or it can take place in the quietest of moments. It can happen in front of a crowd or it can occur out of sight. It can be planned or spontaneous. Sometimes we demonstrate kindness just by listening. When we focus on another person and give them our undivided attention, we are letting them know that we care. But perhaps the greatest kindness we can show to someone is to simply accept them for who they are – without judgment.

No matter what our beliefs, the fact must be acknowledged that we are all here together at the same time sharing our daily lives. And we all benefit in important and meaningful ways when we are kind to each other. That is why kindness should be more than an occasional gesture, it should be an attitude that we embrace without reservation.

We must never underestimate the power of kindness. It can change a moment, a day or a life.