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Be Kind

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

Mother Teresa

Today I’m giving 5 compliments. It’s all part of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. Each day I get an email with a new challenge. Today I get to give 5 genuine, heartfelt compliments and my instructions are as follows:

“It could be to your mom ’cause you just don’t do it enough, or a complete stranger. But you have to mean it! Tell someone why they inspire you, why you’re grateful for them, how they make your life better, or tell a stranger why they caught your eye.

Do it in a letter, on the phone, in person, or however you like – just make sure it’s from the heart. Too often, we are vocal about all the things we don’t like and quiet about what we do. There’s vulnerability in telling someone that you think they’re wonderful or even telling a stranger you think they’re beautiful.”

I decide to do it by letter. After all, I saw some pretty awesome cards in Kimprints the other day and I don’t know about you but I’ve long treasured the kind and complimentary things people have written to me over the years, be it on letterhead, a card or a napkin. There is something about that tangible, written token that I love.

5824714049_d44d5ec32e_oWho should I write to? I immediately think of the people closest to me, my husband and good friends. After all, there’s a reason I hang out with them – I really like these people. But there is something that feels self serving about my initial selections; like I might anticipate some sort of benefit? It’s not the wrong choice exactly but it’s not quite right either. I start to think a little further out, to include some less obvious choices. Who do I admire and why?

On my way downtown to buy my cards, I feel excitement growing in the pit of my stomach. I’m getting ready to write love notes of a sort, and I’m thinking about the many things I admire about these people: their social mindedness, their kind heartedness, their passion, their commitment, their bravery – and I feel like I’m falling in love with them as I think about it. Is it possible that there is something about writing a love letter that actually builds/grows love?

As I make my way to the card store I feel exuberant and I can’t keep it in. I notice myself chatting up strangers, holding doors open and generally interacting with the public in ways I don’t usually. Each interaction is giving me more energy and I think I might be getting drunk on it.

DSC_0168I have to admit that I’ve sometimes associated kindness with a certain softness and possibly weakness. But kindness is not weak at all. What’s weak is walling yourself off from the world, only giving to those that you’re expected to.

Kindness is obviously strength; it is your attention and energy given freely and it connects you to everyone around you. It builds you and everyone you meet.

The added (and mildly selfish) benefit for introspective sorts like myself is that it draws us out of ourselves in the most beautiful way. Acts of kindness are a bridge to the world and all that is good in it.

The next day, cards complete, I drop by the post office, buy some stamps and pop them in the mail; a happy task complete. When I get home today’s kindness task is waiting in my email. It has to do with being kind to myself and reads:

“It’s hard to be kind to others if you haven’t first been kind to yourself. Take some time for YOU today. Whether this you time is spent getting comfy – such as curled up under a blanket with slippers on and sipping away on hot cocoa, or creating or dancing – make it totally enjoyable for you.”

I think I’ve got this one covered.

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