Can you use more kindness in your life?

I think it’s normal for people to reflect about their youth as they age. Some of us remember special times and people we’ll never see again: our first loves, that summer vacation that just can’t be topped… And some of us are incredibly grateful we don’t have to relive sitting home the night of the prom or that godawful first job.

Either way, I think most of us agree life was different then. No, we didn’t have to walk 5 miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways, but we all remember things our children and/or grandchildren never heard of, like carbon paper, 78s, and party lines. As we look back, the nostalgia of kinder times fills our minds and we can’t help but compare them to the way things are right now. Kindness is what I seek when I look backward, probably because I’m experiencing less and less of it these days.

Psychologists say that to overcome the harm of a single negative comment, a person needs to receive seven positive comments. Do you know anyone who praises more than he or she criticizes, let alone seven times more?

When I grew up, my parents told me to always reach for my first choice, that good old brass ring. They also cautioned I wouldn’t always reach the brass ring, finish first, or get exactly what I wanted. And when that happened, I needed to be prepared. I had to have second, third, and fourth choices waiting in the wings.

Which is why I wanted to be a mother … a writer … a musician … a doctor … a teacher … and a ballerina. (Note: I always knew I couldn’t be a ballerina, but I still dreamed.)

The worst thing in the world isn’t failing to get what you want, Mom said, it’s quitting. Well, actually, that’s not the worst. The real worst is not getting what you want because you didn’t even try to get it or because you sat around and waited for someone else to get it for you.

When you expect other people to do things for you, you set yourself up for failure because they’re too busy searching for their own brass rings. Sure, they love and care about you, and might take a rest from their own searches to help you once in a while. But let’s face it, everyone’s more concerned with themselves than they are with other people.

Which, in some ways, is sad. Yes, we need to take care of ourselves. But we need to take care of each other, too. On our quests for whatever it is we seek, we need to walk around people instead of stepping on them as if they were staircases. We need to listen to the things we say and imagine if those very same words were directed at us. (The Golden Rule isn’t really as obsolete as carbon paper, is it?)

Tell your coworker you love the color of her sweater. Let the driver who’s been waiting patiently at the stop sign pull out in front of you. Give your dog an extra treat. Tell your child, spouse, parent, AND brother you love them. Why? Just because.

Kindness doesn’t need a reason. It is a reason in and of itself.

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