“Woh, oh, what I want to know, is are you kind?”
Uncle John’s Band
So, when I decided to start this journey, I wondered how I would capture the spirit of kindness. Because, really, almost everyone is kind. At least you’d be hard pressed to find a person that doesn’t think they are a kind soul.
“Kindness? Of course I am kind! I hold doors open for people, say please and thank you!
When someone is sad, I ask what’s wrong.
I even brake for animals. I am the epitome of kindness wrapped up in a big, warm, fuzzy hug.”
Yep – everyone IS kind. At least in a simple, reflexive kind of way – like when the waiter at a restaurant says “Enjoy your meal” and you say “You too.” Niceties naturally flow from people. So I knew I had to come up with a distinction between everyday kindness and really taking an active stance to be a gracious and caring person. I’ve decided to break it up into two categories – “unconscious” and “conscious” kindness.
Unconscious kindness is easy. It’s taking a second to recognize a need and acknowledge it. Like posting a birthday wish on Facebook to a random “friend” that you may or may not have talked with this decade. THAT is unconscious kindness. It took very little effort, thought or time – but was still a nice gesture that I’m sure brought a smile. The world goes ’round on unconscious kindness.
Conscious kindness, on the other hand, is anything but reflexive. It’s looking at a situation, assessing it and REALLY making an effort to help. Conscious kindness is being moved by another person, and doing something about it. I’m coming to realize it’s not super easy to live in conscious kindness. It requires stepping outside the comfort zone and really putting yourself out there. Which is scary.
That said, we need all the kindness we can get in the world – so keep it coming! Do all the unconsciously kind acts you can – they DO make a difference – our world a better place because of them! Smile frequently, offer help often, and keep yourself open. When you can – aim to be consciously kind. I know it isn’t as simple or carefree – but it’s so very important. Next time someone tells you they’ve had a bad day – instead of simply saying “Oh – I’m sorry to hear that” and moving on to bigger and better things – take a moment and really ASK what’s wrong and then actively LISTEN to the response. As a result – you might be able to HELP them through their problem.
So, for the next year, I will immerse myself in “unconscious” kindness on a daily basis, and strive for “conscious” kindness whenever possible. I can’t wait to see what happens – an exciting year is upon us for sure! Thanks for reading, and of course, please feel free to join in. The journey will be so much sweeter with you along for the ride.