Happy International Kindness Day! Of course, if you’re reading this post on any day, other than the date it was published, it will no longer be International Kindness Day. So you’ve got between one and 364 days before you need to be kind again, right? Wrong! As we all know, we should show kindness every day of the year, but that doesn’t mean that International Kindness Day is a silly pointless celebration. If you ask me, anything that reminds us of the importance of kindness is brilliant. It’s all too easy to go through the day, wrapped up in our own worries or stress, or even just our huge mental to do list, and forget that above all else, kindness is key.
My daughter – currently age seven – is great at reading, writing and maths. She’s mastered a pretty spot-on cartwheel. She’s a fairly good swimmer, despite only having a handful of lessons so far. Sometimes, I look at her – a brilliant all-rounder – and I wonder how on earth she is so good at so many things. I’m a bit envious, if truth be told. But in a way, none of that matters. Because I’d much rather she grows up to be a kind person, than get As in all of her exams and gold medals in swimming races and gymnastics contests.
So here are three things that I’m trying to teach her about kindness…
- React to unkindness with kindness. It’s often easier said than done, but if someone is really unkind to you, take the wind out of their sails by being kind in return. I try to lead by example on this one, and when the seven-year-old is screaming and shouting at me, I’ll give her a big hug. It usually calms her right down and means we can have a proper chat about whatever is upsetting her. Arguably a bit harder when you’re seven and a friend tells you she’s uninvited you to her birthday party, but if I can get her to see the benefit in smiling and saying something kind, then that’s a win.
- If you see an opportunity to show kindness to someone, take it. These wise words came from Amy Ransom when she was a guest on my podcast (listen here if you haven’t heard that episode). I think it’s such good advice – we’re so often presented with these opportunities – moments where we could correct someone, or tell someone what we think they should have done, or what they could do better, or what we think about a decision. But sometimes, showing kindness and making that person feel better, is more valuable than telling them what we think.
- It’s better to be the person who smiles than the person who doesn’t smile back. Whether you’re seven or 37, this one is important. In the past, I’ve decided not to smile at someone in case they don’t smile back (either because they don’t know me, don’t recognise me or don’t like me!) but now, I smile anyway. And more often than not – the other person smiles back! Kindness is catching….
Which lessons in kindness are you teaching your children?
PS The top image is a print by my gorgeous (kind) friend Vickie who is over on Instagram at @INPOLife