The guiding principle that I follow is simple: Kindness Matters.
From the tiny gestures like holding the elevator for someone, or a smile in passing to the bigger gestures like buying coffee or lunch for someone to the grandiose gestures, like paying off someone’s debt or buying someone a car…it all matters.
I try to infuse my life with that kindness, to live each and every day thinking about kindness first. I started to think this way years and years ago, and with each passing day I get better at it.
I still have unkind thoughts, that’s just human, but when I do, I stop myself and think about what is driving that thought. Usually, it isn’t because of anything someone else has said or done. Nearly always it is because I am being cranky. I generally treat it by doing something kind for someone else.
Funny thing is, it works.
I am a happier person in general since I adopted this notion, since I brought kindness first into my life. I can’t pay off anyone debts (including my own) in a grand sweeping notion, but I can buy the homeless guy trying to stay dry and warm in the nearly endless rain we’re experiencing now a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich. I’m not buying anyone a car anytime soon, but I can knit or crochet hats and scarves for people on the street. I can bake cookies to take to work to share, even though I can’t have any. I can hold the elevator door for the mother with two toddlers and a stroller and a diaper bag and briefcase on her way to the daycare on the 2nd floor.
I can also accept people for who they present themselves to be, faults and flaws and all, and love them for who they are. I can offer the people around me the permission to be themselves, wholly and completely simply by being myself wholly and completely. This is why I generally have no filter.
I am not ashamed of who I am: Fat, 50, geeky, kinky, dorky, thinky, cis-gendered female (with all that implies…boobs, periods, mood swings, hot flashes, etc), agoraphobic, socially awkward. I don’t hide much, I don’t keep much private, even though others think I should.
It’s a kindness I give to the world around me in the hope that one day we will stop being ashamed of things in which there should be no shame. There’s enough pain and shame and blame and misery in this world. No need to invent more.
So, on this rainy Wednesday, give yourself permission to be you, and remember that kindness really does matter. It can change lives. It changed mine.