Kindness

Aug 25, 2017 | 18 comments

As many of you know, “kindness” is my word for 2017. All too often, though, it can seem we’re living in a world where kindness is in short supply.

The global news headlines are almost unceasingly grim. My social media feeds catalogue ills large and small. And in my own life and family, worries and problems are as thick as the weeds clogging my back garden after this rain-soaked summer.

Even when I stepped out of my small-town church after service last Sunday, it was into conflict and cacophony. Three dogs had met on the sidewalk at the bottom of the church steps. Amidst the snarls, barks and growls (and rising voices of owners trying to calm their animals), all I could think of was that the scene was somehow symbolic of both my life and the present world stage.

I wanted to scurry home, climb into bed and pull the covers up to my chin. Yet, I couldn’t. Whether I wanted to or not, I had to “adult.” And when I logged into my Twitter account last Sunday afternoon, it was as if the universe was sending me a message.

My timeline was topped by tweets about kindness and the power of small actions to spark large and impactful changes. A bit further down, I found links to several heartwarming stories—just what I needed to help restore my bruised faith in humanity.

In 140 characters, I was reminded that we all have choices. In choosing kindness as my word for this year, I’d made a conscious decision to look for opportunities to be kind, as well as acknowledge such actions in others.

There are many things in my life, as well as the world at large, over which I have no control. What I can control, though, is how I respond to those forces, and how I act when faced with challenges and moral questions large and small.

So, for the remainder of 2017, I need to take more opportunities to stop and note how kindness makes the world—and my life—better. Instead of focusing on what is wrong, I’m making a dedicated effort to focus on what is right. 

From an unexpected message of cheer from a friend, to a good news story (like this one about a woman whose wedding was cancelled and who is giving away her unused designer dress to a bride in need), noting daily instances of kindness is a powerful tool.  

A late family friend, who was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known, always said: “Don’t thank me for a kindness, just pass kindness on.” In fiction, she helped inspire the character of Liz Carmichael in Summer on Firefly Lake (who also appears in the third book of the series, Back Home at Firefly Lake, out in December). In life, her words have come back to me this week like a touchstone.

As for the dogs at the bottom of the church steps? Calm was soon restored, dog treats were shared, and dogs and owners continued civilly down the street.

In that experience too is a lesson for life and living it.

18 Comments

  1. Dorine Fowke

    Well said, Jennifer. I have a fridge magnet from UCV that says, “No act of kindness is ever wasted”. But I must admit, there are days when I don’t notice the reminder that I deliberately put there for myself. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      I have those sorts of reminders at various places in my home too, Dorine. Yet, like you, I often overlook them. I’m glad my reminder to myself also helped you. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Reply
  2. Beth

    I agree with you, Jen, that the power of kindness cannot be underestimated. So many of the world’s (and our own) problems could be eliminated if we would only be kind to each other.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Beth. “Kindness makes the world go round.”

      Reply
  3. Lynn Folliott

    Focusing on the positive things in life and being kinder would definitely make life better for all of us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Jen.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      And thank you for reading and commenting, Lynn. I appreciate your kindness to me.

      Reply
  4. Susanna Bavin

    I think kindness is the most important quality anyone can possess. It’s one of the oldest cliches, but kindness really does make the world a better place. It doesn’t require much thought or effort to be kind to someone – but the difference you can make to another’s life is enormous. Thanks for this timely blog, Jen.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      And thank you, Susanna. I value the kindness you show to me in both writing and life. xxx

      Reply
  5. Heidi Vanstone

    Kindness smooths the harshness away from the grind of daily living. It is the unexpected burst of beauty in someone’s day. It costs very little, and can make a world of difference to s/o who is suffering or burdened by life circumstances.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Exactly, Heidi. Thank you for sharing those wise words.

      Reply
  6. Tara

    Lovely post, Jen. Kindness is so important. Even the smallest things can make all the difference.

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Tara. I appreciate you reading & am glad the post resonated with you.

      Reply
  7. Debbie Roberts

    Hi Jen, what a lovely post. It’s all too easy to focus on the negatives, but with a little practice, it is possible to change the way we view things. How we handle things does also have an impact on outcomes too. The world is full of small acts of kindness we just have to take a little more notice and keep passing them on.

    xx

    Reply
    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks so much, Debbie. How lovely to ‘see’ you here. I appreciate you reading the post and sharing your thoughts–wise words to live by. xx

      Reply

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