by Kristy Lawton
"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelms the world." - Desmond Tutu
Last week was World Kindness Day, a global day to recognize, appreciate, and promote acts of kindness. How can we go about adding more acts of kindness in our day to make the world a more positive and loving place? As referenced in Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu's quote above, sometimes the most powerful impact one can have in their attempts to spread kindness is to start with where they are, who they are with, and the experiences of their every day life. Acts of kindness do not neccesarily need to be these grand gestures. Even small, simple actions can create a ripple effect and hopefully start a chain reaction of kind behaviors.
Today, as I was driving in the car with my nine- year-old daughter, we were stopped in traffic. I waved to a car waiting to turn onto the road, and allowed them to get in front of us. I pointed out to to my daughter how the car directly in front of us was inching along to make it clear to the other driver that they would not be allowing them to pull out in front of them. I did not want to do the same thing they did. I explained to my daughter that we have no idea what kind of day the person waiting to turn into traffic is having. He could have been coming from a sick family member's home. He could have just found out that he lost his job and is stressing about upcoming expenses. We just don't know what anyone else is going through, and the hope is that through a simple act of kindness, such as allowing a car to pull ahead of us in traffic, we may help to boost their spirits a bit. "And maybe next time they will let a car go in front of them like we did." my daughter said. Bingo!
About a month ago, I started a new daily ritual with my family. At dinnertime, I will share with them and ask them to share one thing about their day that made them happy, and one example of how they were kind that day. They have all really taken to this, and if ever I forget to ask, my children (specifically my daughter) will jump in and get the happiness and kindness questions rolling. She has also recently added her own question to the mix. "What were you thankful for today?" Bringing our focus and attention to how we were kind that day, as well as to when we felt joy and gratitude, causes a shift to take place in our consciousness, and allows us to want to seek out even more ways to be kind. It also helps us to appreciate what was positive about our day, which in turn causes us to want others to feel that same positivity.
If you are looking for more concrete ways to get the family involved in spreading kindess, here are a few examples:
-Send kindness cards to family or friends. A simple card received in the mail letting someone know you were thinking about them can really mean a lot.
-Donate gently used clothing and toys to groups collecting items for people in need.
-Compliment a stranger. An unexpected compliment can bring unexpected joy!
-Offer to rake leaves or shovel the driveway of a neighbor. Get the kids involved too.
-Pay for the coffee of the person in line behind you. They may end up paying for the person behind them as well!
-Paint kindness rocks and spread them around your neighborhood. How nice would it be for others to see a kind message on a rock while out and about!
There are so many little ways we can share and spread kindness on a daily basis, and it all adds up! Imagine how much positive energy would exist in the world if we all put forth the effort to spread kindness. Ask yourself, what did I do that was kind today? And what can I do to spread more kindess tomorrow?