Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Kindness Project


Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good.  But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts.

BE THE PERSON YOU NEEDED (yes, my title is almost the same as Carol's... it's because she inspired me.)

Choose to be kind. It sounds easy enough to do, right? And it is... some of the time.

Choosing to be kind when it's for a friend who's hurting, or for a family member who's having a down day, or to a sweet-but-harried-looking young mom juggling three kids and a cart full of groceries... those are pretty easy choices to make. They are nice people. Being kind to them shouldn't take too much effort. And maybe we're having a good day, and feeling really generous, so we stop, make an effort, reach out, help. We choose to be kind.

But what about the times when we're wishing someone would stop and be nice to us? Or what if it's a person who has been unkind in some way in the past--or many times? Not quite as easy anymore. That's when it truly counts though, that's what this project is all about in my mind. Not just the easy choice to be nice in the easy situation. It's about choosing to consciously be kind even when I'm not in a great place myself. Even when it's to a person who isn't nice to me.

Have you ever had a day when you felt so alone or hurt that you longed for just a small glimmer of kindness from someone? I have. The kind of day where the usual carelessness of the average strangers around me stings instead of going mostly unnoticed like normal. The kind of day when the deliberate rudeness of certain people feels like salt being rubbed into an open wound that can never quite heal. The kind of day when it's all you can do to keep the tears buried, to try and stay strong and put the smile your kids need to see on your face. I have. Not often, but I've had them. And I've thought to myself, why didn't that stranger offer to help me when I was so obviously in need of it? Why can't so-and-so just smile at me and be the first one to say hi, just once? Why can't someone call me just to chat, just to let me know they care?

We all have those days. Some more than others. And we can all do something to help.

My vision for myself with this project is to be that person, the one that I long for on those days. Even if I'm the one having that day, I am committing to try and be that person. Even in those times when I long for someone to reach out to me--I'm going to try and reach out to others. I'm not perfect, and I know some days I will be better at this than others. And it's hard if people don't reciprocate. (Trust me, I know. I try to be kind to people who aren't nice back. It's hard. And I'll be honest, some days I don't have it in me to reach out and open myself up to being hurt again and again.) But I'm going to try harder. I'm going to work on being more sincere. On looking for opportunities to reach beyond myself and consciously try to be kind to everyone around me, no matter who they are or what they've done--good or bad.

Be the person you needed. If we all did that, can you imagine what would happen?


Check out who else is posting today for The Kindness Project:

Elizabeth Davis
Sarah Fine
Liza Kane
Amie Kaufman
Sara Larson
Matthew MacNish
Sara McClung
Gretchen McNeil
Tracey Neithercott
Lola Sharp
Michele Shaw
Meagan Spooner
Carolina Valdez Miller

Be sure to check them out :D We post the second Wednesday of every month. Want to join us? Grab our button and spread a little kindness.

16 comments:

Matthew MacNish said...

This is such a wonderful idea! I'm so proud to be a part of it.

Meagan Spooner said...

Wonderful first post! Excited to be a part of this group. :)

Amie Kaufman said...

Beautiful and inspiring, thank you. The days you need the kindness yourself are definitely the hardest -- but when I do manage to offer something to someone else on those days, I find it helps me too. This is a wonderful reminder of that.

Sara McClung said...

I completely agree. When we're not feeling our best, it's still important--in fact, maybe it's even more important--to remember to be kind. Because when we're down, it's easy to take others with us, even unintentionally. And making someone else happy, or relieved, or just feel like they're not alone? I bet our own bad moods will be lifted pretty quick as well. I'm really going to strive to remember this.

Michele Shaw said...

Yes! It's having that kindness float to the surface subconciously on days when we don't think we have any that mean the most.

lizakane.me said...

"On looking for opportunities to reach beyond myself and consciously try to be kind to everyone around me"

Yes, it's easy to love the lovable, so much harder to love the unlovable.

Kindness, like love, needs to be exercised to be strengthened. Working in the service industry has given me the opportunity, and stamina, to show kindness, especially to the unlovable.

Thank you for sharing, and nice to meet you!

lizakane.me said...

"On looking for opportunities to reach beyond myself and consciously try to be kind to everyone around me"

Yes, it's easy to love the lovable, so much harder to love the unlovable.

Kindness, like love, needs to be exercised to be strengthened. Working in the service industry has given me the opportunity, and stamina, to show kindness, especially to the unlovable.

Thank you for sharing, and nice to meet you!

Sarah said...

Exactly! It's not easy to make this choice--it's easier to wish someone else would make the first move. It certainly helps to have reminders of what can result if we manage to take one step in someone else's direction, and to reach out. Great post!

Lola Sharp said...

Yes. Intentional effort at being kinder, even when we don't feel like it. <3

I'm glad we're doing this project together. :)

Hugs,
Lola

Lola Sharp said...

Yes. Intentional effort at being kinder, even when we don't feel like it. <3

I'm glad we're doing this project together. :)

Hugs,
Lola

L.T. Elliot said...

You're remarkable, Sara. This is a beautiful thing you're doing, especially when you need that person too. I'm sorry for those lonely, hard times and I know what that feels like. I'm proud of you for this. There is so much to your heart. You so often amaze me. I need to be more like you.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

You're very kind, Sara. <3 <3

And I agree--it's so hard to be kind when others aren't being kind to you. But I think finding that kindness within us, regardless the circumstance will reward us most. Love this post!

Tracey Neithercott said...

Really wonderful post. Kindness to people who aren't kind to me is something I really struggle with. But you're right...that's the greatest kindness, to do something nice for someone we dislike or when we're feeling terrible. That's definitely my challenge for this project.

Jess Corra said...

You have me thinking of the people who are overlooked everyday. I live in a major city and the faces sleeping on the sidewalk don't change much week to week. I'm sure by now they recognize me on my regular walk to work just as easily as I know who'll be sitting over which grate. It's not that it's any harder to be kind to these people - sometimes it's a matter of noticing them at all. :/

jjsundevil said...

found you from the gnomes blog
awesome post

Claire Hennessy said...

Great point - it's quite easy to be kind to nice people, but much harder to be kinder to those that piss us off or are just generally mean. Love this project :)