Kindness works

Life As I Know It
By Nicole Daughhetee
Staff Reporter

I have been on a journey of self-discovery for as long as I can remember. As I have said before, we are all works in progress. Some of us actively seek to learn more about ourselves to improve our lives and relationships with others. Some of us fall into circumstances that wind up teaching us applicable life lessons. Others ignore the idea of self-improvement altogether and are content to move through life in a state of blissful ignorance.

Over the last several months, I have been afforded a variety of opportunities to learn more about myself and how I interact with other people. There are some fairly simple, fundamental truths I constantly attempt to put into practice daily. Sometimes it is more difficult than at other times, but if we could all practice the most basic principle we learn growing up, imagine what a better world we would help shape.

Em and Ella have each experienced conflict at school lately. It seems each of my girls has been faced with a bully of a classmate. When I pick them up after school, I listen to stories about recess play gone awry — degraded into name-calling and petty meanness.

Before I begin to wax philosophical, let me say this: I am not one of those parents who believe that my daughters are saintly or should be considered as candidates for canonization. I know that they are not always on their best behavior, and I know that they are not always polite. I know they don’t always speak with kindness or act selflessly. Thankfully, they are children, and I have time to help shape and mold their characters.

By the way, I am not perfect either. However, I do attempt to be an example for my daughters when it comes to treating others with kindness, compassion, understanding and unconditional love. While I might be idealistic, I don’t think it hurts to smile at someone even when I am having a bad day.

When I hear my girls talking about other kids that have been unkind, I emphasize that the people who are not nice are often the ones most in need of random acts of kindness. After all, most of us treat other people the way we have been treated and have learned to treat others.
As children, if we grow up in a home where we aren’t hugged, loved and nurtured, how would we know how to treat other people with kindness and compassion?

We wouldn’t.

Bullying of any kind is absolutely unacceptable; yet I imagine that kids who bully other kids are probably victims of bullying themselves. Most kids are not inherently mean-spirited. They are taught that behaving in this way is “normal” somewhere along the line. It seems to me, then, that the best way to combat unkindness is to shower one with love and understanding.

I’m sure this all sounds like hippie-dippy, tree-hugging, leftist rhetoric, but I think my thoughts have some merit and I would challenge my readers out there to give kindness a chance. What is the worst that can happen? Put a little love out there and, hmmm, you might get a little love in return?

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” ― Mother Teresa