Kindness is a moment to moment choice

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When I decided to start the I Choose Kindness project, I realized it would be about educating people on the complexity and simplicity of what kindness truly means. It’s about sharing the message about how powerful kindness can be for you and others. It’s a similar feeling as when I talk to people about free hugs and they give me a little giggle on how ‘cute’ that is as they haven’t personally witnessed the experience of free hugs and seeing people beam with happiness, shed a tear of what is going on in their life with a stranger, and the connection that can take place in those short seconds of the embrace.

In each moment we have the opportunity to choose kindness and when we are met with kind people and kind experiences it is easy and fun. What about the times when we are met with fearful people and experiences? That’s when you need to take a deep breath and be the light of kindness and it’s not easy, but it is possible. When I talk about choosing kindness doesn’t mean that I’m perfect at it all the time and I too continue to work at it.

I recently had a sad experience in which I didn’t choose kindness. Now I wasn’t outwardly mean, but for hours after the experience my head was swirling with ‘how could he say that’ thoughts and frankly I wasn’t thinking kindly of this man. I’ve known forever. I could make up excuses for him as he’s in his 70’s and that is his generation, he’s from a small rural town and doesn’t see a lot of diversity, or that he knows not of what he spoke. Yet none of those excuses made me feel better. He used the ‘N’ word after I mentioned liking our President. I was also saddened the two others with me didn’t speak up on the inappropriateness of his commentary. Now kindness isn’t a doormat, so I could still be kind an say something respectfully. It was nearing time for me to leave so I stood up and said that was unacceptable to me and inappropriate. I gave my hugs to all three in the room, including him, and left.

Where was my unkindness? My unkindness came from my stewing for hours after on how disappointed I was that he could use that word so freely. I was sad that the others in the room didn’t seem to mind. And I stewed and stewed about it. 

Kindness would be okay with my stating it was inappropriate, hugging, and leaving as I knew there was no way I would change his mind and trying to do so would have led us into bigger issues. Yet kindness would have allowed me to be upset with what I heard, speak up, process it (quicker!), and stand on the side of love and compassion. Kindness would have been me turning my disappointed, anger, and frankly hurt thoughts into loving and compassionate thoughts for him and for all who live in fear of those different than us.

So as I ask you to CHOOSE KINDNESS, know that I ask and remind myself of this daily. Sometimes it’s a little later than I would have wished, but it does come as I know from my deepest core that it is love, compassion, gentleness, and forgiveness that will heal wounds and celebrate victories.

In love and kindness,

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