After running some errands yesterday I got back home…plopped all the bags down and then plopped myself down too. I turned on the television and listened as a young author was being interviewed about his bestseller book titled: Deep Kindness.
Kraft, the author, was asking his interviewers if they considered kindness an important attribute in people…both interviewers nodded…he then asked if they thought kindness was free...once again the two interviewers nodded.
Kraft persisted…”Free in the sense that you can decide when to give kindness to someone or free to dig a little deeper and give kindness when it is not convenient for you?”
Most people consider the word Kindness as one of those nice abstract picture words that doesn’t need a definition…it is more of a feeling type word.
“Practicing kindness is an essential step in helping to repair a world that has grown to be more divisive, lonely, and anxious than ever. But with quotes like, “Just be kind” or, “Throw kindness around like confetti,” we’ve oversimplified what it takes to actually demonstrate kindness in a world crying out for it. “
At one seminar where Kraft was speaking ….a woman came up to him afterwards and told him her story about kindness…or lack of its depth when it wasn’t convenient to be kind. She was on a plane heading home to earlier sudden news that her father was dying and wanted to see her…by the time her plane landed…she could feel herself slowly falling apart.
She had a two hour lay-over before the next plane…while sitting there she got the call she had dreaded…her father had just passed. She began sobbing uncontrollably sitting on a bench in a crowded airport watching thousands of people walk by her.
Most looked uncomfortable when they saw or heard her weeping…some purposefully looked away….but out of those thousands rushing past her to get to their next plane or location…no one stopped to ask about her or comfort her or even hand her a tissue.
This took Houston Kraft back to his purpose in writing the book…we all like to think we are kind people…when it is convenient to be so…but what about those times when being kind means sacrificing your missing a plane or connection…what is the true depth of our kindness?
It starts with modeling kindness for our children. Just small changes can bring about different perspectives on kindness in our own family rituals. For example:
Instead of asking the family at supper…”How was everyone’s day?” ….what if the daily question was ” What did you do to be kind and help someone else today?”
Kraft shared the story of the woman at the airport with a later audience and ended with the St. Francis of Assisi title quote:
“The deeds you do may be the only sermon some persons hear today.”
Think about it…if just one person had slowed down long enough to ask the woman if she needed help or would like someone to talk to…or even give her tissue….her story could have been about the true goodness in people.
How the person who stopped to listen to her plight…had also asked about her father, gotten her to share a funny story about him…what a difference the word kindness would have meant to her from that point on. Then, hopefully, she would have paid it forward to someone else who needed a kind soul to listen.
Don’t we always hope our children understand the importance of being kind…but unless we are explicit in our own expectations of kindness as a priority it probably falls short.
Kraft gave this example:
A group of parents were asked if given the following three choices…which would be the top priority they would want their children to take with them into the world.
Being successful, being kind, being happy.
Most parents answered with being kind and happy….but later when their older children were asked which of these priorities they thought their parents chose for them…all answered “being successful.”
In other words…there is a lack of communication in prioritizing the important qualities in life between parents and their children. What we model, ourselves, is what they will model one day…not our words..but our actions.
To show the greatest depth in kindness…is to be mis-treated but then turn around and be kind to someone else the way you wished you had been.
So until tomorrow….
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
Whenever I go to plant something new in my garden…I must remember it is an act of kindness…sharing beauty with the world.