be brave (kind, too)

One of the Intramuralist’s primary aims is to focus on that which is good and right and true; life isn’t long enough to invest in the unhealthy. With the flip of the calendar, I’ve noticed several longtime friends encouraging the same, inspired by a recent segment on CBS News Sunday Morning.

“Think kindness,” said the segment’s initial promo. Host Jane Pauley then begins by asking, “When was the last time you even thought about kindness?”

In the current cultural state in which we are often known more for what we are against rather than what we are actually for, what if we were, so-to-speak, for kindness?

Would that not be a welcome change?

Said one-on-the-receiving-end on CBS, “Someone did something for us that we did not expect them to do.” That lack of expectation is what makes kindness so special. It intrinsically prompts genuine joy, humility, and thanksgiving. It’s also something we are all capable of doing.

“We’re genetically wired to be kind. It’s actually our deepest identity,” said featured author and former organic chemist, David Hamilton. “It’s when we’re not being kind that it’s unhealthy.”

Kindness isn’t something we just do; it’s something we need, says Hamilton. Note that kindness is the opposite of stress. Yet we live in a culture which sometimes seems to subconsciously, actually choose stress, thinking for some no doubt, non-God-honoring reason, that kindness must be earned.

Kindness doesn’t have to be any grand gesture. It could simply be a smile or an affirming word. It could be the consistency of random acts… especially in social media or in circles not known to be consistently kind.

In the news morning segment, CBS introduced a couple who set out to do one small act of kindness every day for an entire year. (Let me say that again: every day for an entire year.) They acknowledged that at first, a lot of their friends made fun of them, but they continued, and quickly began to inspire others by posting their stories on social media with the accompanying hashtag, “KeepAmericaKind.” They shared tales of filling expired parking meters with coins, baking cookies for strangers, and sending pizzas to sheriffs’ departments, for example.

They are not alone. Acknowledging the contagious aspect of kindness, many more have embraced the idea of 52 “weeks” of kindness — #kind52 — aiming for one act and thus one post each week of the year. Note the sweet act from one longtime treasured friend:

“Week 1 of 52 Weeks of kindness. I took a picture of a puzzle that a patient’s husband completed while she was doing radiation. I had the picture printed and I am putting in a picture frame to give to him. This kept his mind busy while his wife was treated. He was so proud of this and I wanted him to remember the beautiful puzzle he had completed. Can’t wait to give it to him!! #kind52.”

And from another:

“Walking into the gym and the young girl from Fry’s grocery store was out gathering grocery carts, which of course were all over the parking lot. There was one just set up on some rocks on the curb, and as she came walking over I looked at her and said I’ve got this one and I pulled it out and took it over to where her line of carts were and placed it in there… It may not be a huge act of kindness but it made somebody’s job just a little bit easier and it let her know how much she’s appreciated. #kind52” 

Oh, how I love this! And oh, how refreshing it is in place of all the rants and raves and finger pointing; the rants and and raves and finger pointing are too often not very kind.

We can do better, friends, but in order to do better, we must be intentional; we must use “the muscle,” so-to-speak. As the segment concluded, if our “kindness muscle” goes unused, it will atrophy, and the urge to be kind will go away.

So if we are going to be kind adults, it’s easier the earlier we begin to exercise the muscle. Such is the thinking of Brian Williams, the founder of “Think Kindness.” Williams goes into schools across the country, encouraging and empowering elementary and middle school children…

“Be brave. Be kind. Change the world.”

Kindness begets kindness. We have the power to change the world.

What if we were known for what we are for?

What if we were known for being kind?