On my way to the mall for one of my many shopping trips over the holidays, somebody honked at me. I was momentarily startled and felt as though I’d been taken before the principal. Happened again … same trip. And that warm feeling of shame spread inside me one more time.
Now, I am a good driver and I don’t recall doing anything stupid during those two occurrences. I wasn’t checking email or texting … my daughter chastised me for doing so at a red light once and it stuck with me. I wasn’t even scrolling to select music. My new car enables me play my iTunes by voice, so there is no need to even touch my phone. No, I was just driving.
Perhaps I didn’t accelerate through the light quickly enough for someone. Perhaps in my effort to respect the speed limit, I wasn’t driving fast enough. Perhaps my lack of urgency en route to the mall as I enjoyed the sounds of Christmas carols through my 9-speaker sound system did not take into consideration another driver’s tension level or desire to rush. Whatever the case, the honking upset me. And I carried that with me as I walked into the mall.
After stopping to drop coins in the Salvation Army Kettle, I felt what I needed was a little pick-me-up. So, I went to Starbucks and treated myself to a Gingerbread Latte. The barista substituted for a therapist. I shared my experience and we commiserated a bit. She helped me put it in perspective while she made my coffee. And I walked away with a lighter mood.
She offered a little Kindness and it altered my day.
The sense of urgency in our world is intrinsically self-centered. Heck, as human beings, we are extremely self-oriented. Sitting at my ground floor office desk, the Royal Oak streets are alive — with the sound of honking. Does no one consider how that action affects another?
I’m not just talking about horns here. It’s bigger than that. In our fast-paced, “me me me” world, do people genuinely take time to consider what an action, a careless or cruel word, a dismissive, critical comment, or a harsh post/text/email does to another person? Is our sense of self-importance, self-preservation or just plain “self” so important that we negate the impact of our actions on the feelings of another being on this planet? I read somewhere about a “Golden Rule.” You may or may not have read or heard about it. If memory serves it goes something like … “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” How does an uncharitable, mean-spirited, callous, unfeeling, selfish or just plain careless action resonate now?
Yes, self-care is important. We need to take care of our own spirits … our own selves. And we need to have compassion on ourselves. Sometimes we get overwhelmed or into a bad place. But, oftentimes we don’t get there alone … and lashing out at another doesn’t make things better for us. We need to examine our own actions, connect instead of isolate ourselves, and recognize that our treatment of others has consequences. Our world needs a higher dose of courtesy, respect, and kindness.
So my word and focus for 2018 is #Kindness. I will shine its light into my own heart — what a brilliant power it has! And with Kindness as my focus, I will make more of an effort to show compassion to others as well as show compassion to myself and my thoughts, ideas, hopes, dreams and needs. I will honk, react and judge less. I will slow down, show courtesy and listen more.
It’s amazing how focusing on Kindness changes how I phrase statements, how I work with others, how I get up in the morning and look at my day, and how I spend my time. Oh, I still get impatient, annoyed and sometimes frustrated with life and with others. Even my cat isn’t immune to my moods when she mewls at me for something … I can’t tell what she wants which is soooo frustrating. But then, I can’t always tell what other people in my life want either.
So … I can choose to respond with Kindness instead of annoyance. Since I’ve made this conscious choice, I’m slower to “react” and pause before I “respond.” I find it easier to be gentler and more accepting when I take time to remember that I don’t know what others are going through at this exact moment and that even if I don’t agree or understand them, I can Choose to respond with Kindness. No matter what is going on with me, I can speak in love and think first of someone else. It’s a choice. Kindness.
I read a book to my kids when they were little. It was called “Little Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch School.” There was a message in the final lines of that picture book that I emphasized for them … and that I repeat to myself like a mantra. See Little Miss Spider was struggling to find out what she was good at, where she fit in, and how she could get along with all these bugs that were so different from her. One day, she helped a struggling bug out of a water spout, and she found her special talent …
Our gifts they are many,
We hop, fly and crawl.
But Kindness, he said, it the greatest of all.
Kindness is a talent. It is a skill. And it must be nurtured and cultivated. It must be chosen. After all, we call them “Acts of Kindness.”
On this planet, we are all different. But if we choose to be Kind to those around us … choose to consider how a quick, flippant or dismissive response might negatively impact another individual … we might just begin to shape our world into a more accepting, more considerate place to live.
I don’t know about you, but that’s the world I would like to live in … and to nurture for future generations. Kindness … it’s a gift.
Oh, and should you run across a spider, consider just letting it go. It might have a lesson or two left to teach …
— Jenni #Kindness2018