The word for 2018?

Kindness.

It literally means compassion and generosity but it’s so much more than that.

First, what kindness doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean feeling sorry for others in need then turning the channel on your TV to avoid feelings of guilt. It doesn’t mean dropping a few coins in a basket for the poor then going on your merry way. 

Kindness does mean taking steps to help. If someone you know (or don’t know, better yet) is struggling, how can you offer assistance today? Are they without a job? Or family? Maybe recently diagnosed with an illness? What small act could you perform to take the pressure off? 

I remember when my father had a stroke. Our friends and neighbors would leave food on the doorstep daily. This way, mother didn’t have to cook after a long day of care-taking. We were not poor, but we needed kindness and that’s what we received. 

Its no wonder my parents received this type of gentle care and social support. They performed the same acts of kindness for so many others throughout their lives. A ripple effect occurred where that kindness they so frequently gave others came back to them when they needed it. 

People who live a life based on kindness don’t just donate to an organization once a year and go back to their own lives. They start their own grassroots organization or write newsletters for their charity or start a local group of like-minded folks. Or they pick up litter in the park or make bread for a friend. There life is full of small and larger acts of kindness. 

Recently I watched a program on heroes. They are people just like you and me.  Average people experiencing their own struggles on a daily basis. Yet somehow, they see beyond themselves and prioritize helping others. They prioritize kindness.

There are so many little things that distract us from seeing outside our own circle. When I was in my early 20’s, I broke my neck and landed in a hospital where most had brain tumors and others were quadriplegic or hemiplegic. Six months later, I would go home in a body cast…but many of those remaining would not.

Interestingly, I remember some of the worst cases in that hospital had learned a sense of compassion because of their fate. Sure, they learned tough lessons–but those lessons didn’t make them bitter. Instead they became grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow. 

So remember: kindness can sprout from adversity. And it doesn’t always involve a huge sacrifice. Even small gestures can reflect kindness and make a big difference in our world. (How about a smile to a passer-by or a well-deserved compliment to a friendly neighbor?)

Start by looking around you. Perform a small act of kindness and watch how it creates a chain reaction of other beautiful acts. 

We can all be heroes in our world, in the littlest things we do. It needn’t be huge, it only has to be KIND!

Make a difference in our world. Every day you can…. and YOU CAN!

Happy New Year.