All we should want for the Holidays is kindness.
I don’t know if my claim is cliché or whatever, but I also don’t care if it is. I am never more proud of the kids with whom I work or my own children when I observe them being kind to one another.
I don’t mean some generic form of “being nice,” I’m talking authentic acts of kindness. Acts where I witness kids or adults actively working to make a moment less awkward, less embarrassing, or just less difficult for someone else besides themselves.
I work in education and mental health and I see kindness more than you might expect. Kids are totally capable of kindness. It’s wonderful to see them act on it. (Of course, I also witness plenty of unkindness, which is why I’m writing this plea…)
Educators are totally capable of kindness. In fact, being a teacher, a special educator, a counselor is a profession built upon kindness. (I know, I know, we’ve all had encounters with less-than-kind educators), which is part of why it’s what we should be asking for this holiday season.
Unfortunately we have some very public leaders that model unkind actions, words, and deeds. So, there is a skewed perception that we are all an angry, spiteful lot. It’s the classic “one bad apple ruining the bunch” situation. There is so much kindness, which is why I think we need ask—even demand more of it.
We need it more from our leaders and from one another.
With all this “kindness capability” in our world, how do we take our kindness to the next level?
The first step is knowing where we stand in the “Kindness Kilometer” (I just made that up, but go with me on this. It’s a metric for kindness. We need to establish a baseline and a goal for optimal kindness, so, let’s just call it the Kindness Kilometer, okay?) Also, alliteration is so catchy!
The Kindness Kilometer starts with the ability to greet strangers and friends with a smile. This basic act primes our brains and our emotions for openness and is reflective of an ideal where we respect those we come in contact with without judgement.
As we begin jogging through the Kindness Kilometer, the next step is to engage with strangers politely after observing if there are any needs. We must also be willing to engage with our friends knowingly, listen, and see if they are in need. This step is entirely related to our skills of observation and our intent to act when need be.
The final stretch in the Kindness Kilometer is to proactively consider the needs of someone else PRIOR to considering our immediate needs (while still balancing self-care).
I know we all attempt New Year’s resolutions, and many of them may involve jogging or running or cycling. What if we make a resolution to “run” a full Kindness Kilometer every day? I’m gonna try. I’m gonna make a resolution to run a Kindness Kilometer a day.
Join me won’t you? (I know for a fact that it will not result in muscle soreness and you probably don’t even have to get up any earlier than you are now.)