i wrote recently about setting out with determination to become a kinder person, and as i’ve really made a conscious effort to treat everyone with an added measure of kindness, i have come to a few conclusions that i felt were worth documenting.
i have all of these quotes littered throughout my pinterest boards and the walls of my home – “if you can be anything be kind” and “have courage and be kind” and “be kind or be quiet” and “be kind to unkind people, they need it the most” but what IS being kind? does that mean being friendly? does it mean having good manners? is it only giving compliments? is it smiling even when someone’s driving you crazy? well, yes. kind of. these are often outward expressions of how you control yourself on the inside.
but really, most of kindness, i have learned, is just giving each other a break. not expecting 100% perfection from everyone, not expecting them to be the kind of person you think they should be, or make the decisions you would make, or treat you the way that you think you are entitled to. understanding when they cut you off or say hurtful things or criticize or roll their eyes at you or talk behind your back or leave you out or just plain annoy you, that you need to give them a break.
the day i realized i should maybe make “kindness” a big time goal was a few weeks ago. this was kind of a sad realization, as i pride myself on being a kind person. but i had slipped a little, and sometimes i substitute “loving deeply” for “kindness” when, although they are intertwined, they are not the same thing.
there’s this girl in my institute class that is suuuuper spiritual and very opinionated about it. one day, we were discussing our favorite restaurants and i asked her what hers was. “i don’t like to go out to eat, i think it’s a waste.” oooookay girlfrien. insert MAJOR eye roll from me. then we had a lesson about keeping the sabbath day holy and she made some comment about how unless you’re saving lives, you shouldn’t work sundays. i was like PLEASE. i know everyone has their own opinions on this - but jordan has to work sundays for the next 2 years – a sacrifice we prayed about and one that is very personal to us. i was like, really bugged. and now every time she raises her hand to make a comment i just think “oh gosh, here we go again.” although i have never been outwardly unkind to her, how rude am i?! she deserves a break – she’s just trying to be really obedient and feel the spirit and maybe she’s a little overly-opinionated about the sabbath day, but WHATEVER. that’s not my issue. she’s just trying to be a good person. give her a break.
while i’m airing out my dirty laundry here and just being honest, i can get really sassy at work sometimes. we get a lot of calls from telemarketers and call centers and i swear 50% of them ask for our CEO that was removed from the board 2 years ago. i’m like, can you at least google the company before calling and thinking you can just be pinged straight through to the CEO?! who are these people?? but the thought came to my mind – give them a break. they are probably just doing what they are told, or reading an expired name off of a list.
on a more personal note, how many times am i not giving jordan the break he deserves? he is taking a full semester of the toughest econ classes, playing on 2 intramural teams, working part time, and still managing to work out every day. yet sometimes, i snap at him for leaving his towel on the floor for the thousandth time, or for not being the scripture-reading initiator several days in a row, or for not planning well enough to give me the attention i want. if i want to be kinder to him, i need to give him a break, too. he is trying his hardest to be the best at a thousand different things. and come on, i have two arms. i can pick up the stupid towel.ya know?
i am pretty lucky to have minimal conflict in my life – but there have been times where i have been legitimately hurt and felt like it was on purpose. in those cases, instead of leaping straight to anger, why not give them a break? people, and especially girls, who put others down intentionally are filling a void somewhere, or satisfying an insecurity. why not give them a break and understand that they are hurting? i believe in standing up for yourself when you deem necessary. but generally, being the bigger person helps both of you out in the long run. kill 'em with kindness, that's real. it works.
we all have complex concerns and a burden to carry – these things range from the obvious to the never-noticeable. we are all fighting battles and will make a thousand mistakes on the way. so let’s give each other a break. (am i saying that too much?)
this quote, from one of my very favorite talks, illustrates this point perfectly. she’s talking to women, but i think it applied universally:
“…because of the increasing diversity of life-styles for women of today, we seem even more uncertain and less secure with each other. we are not getting closer, but further away from that sense of community and sisterhood that has sustained us and given us strength for generations. there seems to be an increase in our competitiveness and a decrease in our generosity with one another.”
let’s not let insecurity or uncertainty prevent us from being kind to one another – and as it is with all good things, it’s an upwards cycle. the more you let yourself feel kindness and “let people off the hook” the easier it becomes to do so. and the easier it becomes to truly love them. feeling kindness fosters an environment in which we can be happy. all the time. and that sounds like a lovely life, no?
i reeeeeally believe this sentence right here: we are all doing better than we think. (!!!) but we all still deserve a break. here’s to being the ones to give it.