Spread Kindness

February 10, 2017

The middle schoolers at our school started a kindness club a few months ago. It's been a good reminder that even a small act can change someone's day and can ultimately go a long way because kindness grows and spreads. In the midst of all the anger and hatred and fear we're likely all feeling, it's important to remember how powerful kindness is and to follow this simple advice: "Be a little kinder than you need to be."

The middle schoolers created a "Kindness Tree" to help keep track of acts of kindness that they've received, performed, and observed. You write the act down on a heart-shaped piece of paper which then gets taped to the trees branches to form a big, beautiful canopy of kindness leaves.

I think it can help to do something like this that helps remind us of the power of kindness in a visible way. You could start your own kindness tree or simply write things down or you could put a quarter in a jar for each act of kindness and then donate them or use them to buy something to celebrate kindness with your family.

Here are some ideas for ways you can practice kindness on a daily basis - feel free to suggest others via comments if you've got a good one.

  • Tell the people you love that you love them - do it often.
  • Call, email or text someone just to say hi and see how they're doing.
  • Give compliments whenever you think of them.
  • Leave bigger tips.
  • Say please and thank you and mean them.
  • Put coins in the meter (or the laundry machine).
  • Give up your seat on a crowded train or bus.
  • Hold the door open for strangers (or non-strangers).
  • Bring someone coffee or tea.
  • Cook a meal for someone who could use one - just had a baby, sick, or just tired or overwhelmed.
  • Bake cookies for someone who needs cheering up or just to show your appreciation.
  • Make a donation to support a charity or cause you believe in.
  • Clean the toilet at your house if you do not usually clean it (and start cleaning it at least half the time - it's a job that deserves to be shared equally :)
  • Take a loved one's car to the carwash and return it in sparkling condition.
  • Bring someone a giftcard for a store they frequent regularly (this can be a store like Target, it does not have to be swanky.)

I'll close by sharing this poem (thanks for sharing, Sara)

Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere

like a shadow or a friend.

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