This week I give thanks to a personality trait I am most proud of – kindness.
I don’t like admitting this, but when I was younger I wasn’t exactly the kindest of people. I can’t just say, “Oh, it was high school, kids are just jerks”, because in my heart I know I hurt a few of my friends. I suppose I was immature, and like most kids that age, going through my own crap. I don’t try to justify my past actions, but I acknowledge them and know I will never repeat them.
Recognising my past unkind behaviour and its effects on others has had a big impact on my life. As I grew older, I cultivated kindness towards others. Treating others the way I want to be treated. With kindness and respect.
Over the years I’ve met a lot of people who don’t have this same mindset. Actually, I am occasionally surprised at the nastiness I see, especially on social media. It often seems unjustified. But you never know what people have been through. I don’t think people are born inherently nasty. Some of us have had a tough run of things lately, or a tough life, and can’t express ourselves better just yet. We will all get there.
An article by the Greater Good Magazine, Three Ways for Schools to Help Kids Cultivate Kindness, is one I wish I’d read when I was a teenager. According to the article:
Scientific research has shown us that the spark of kindness resides in everyone, and that even small actions can fan that spark into a flame.
The article outlines a few case studies on kindness exhibited by toddlers and school children.
While these experiments show that kindness and its resultant joy are innate from a very young age, this quality/experience still needs to be cultivated as children enter environments where incentives that support these aspects aren’t always in place. Thus, it is incumbent upon schools to create environments in which these qualities can flourish.
I often wonder if my behaviour in high school would have been different if talks on kindness, gratitude and mindfulness were discussed during school, or even at home. As it is, they never were.
To see the full gratitude challenge, check out this post here and please feel free to join in!