Happy World Kindness Day! Exactly one year ago, The Kindness Machine became available for preorder! It has been a very exciting year, having my first picture book released into the world, and I am thrilled to have shared the book with so many students and families to start or continue the kindness conversation.
I wrote this article and pitched it to The Washington Post. I am aware that is a hard nut to crack, but I wanted to try anyway. I am aware that they feature a lot of news and political view points, but wouldn’t it have been a breath of fresh air to read about kindness? Part of being an author is creating thick skin, setting high goals and being ok with rejection or no responses to your work. I didn’t receive a response to this article, so for now, I hope YOU enjoy this write up about kindness. I hope you are kind to yourself and others today…and everyday. I’ll be over here continuing to write and one day will be featured in The Washington Post. Until then, happy reading and BE KIND.
I wish those two words were enough. I wish those two simple words would automatically spread kindness like the simple flick of a magic wand.
Why does kindness seem like such a challenge?
As a mother of two and a second-grade teacher, I have learned that just because I say, “be kind” or “kindness matters,” does not mean my children and students will automatically know what to do. As adults, we must model what kindness looks like and what it feels like.
Before I continue, let’s be clear about one thing: being nice is not the same as being kind. Being nice is often associated with being a pushover who always says yes. It took me until I was in my thirties to understand that, “No,” is a complete sentence. It took me until I was in my thirties to stand up for myself and create boundaries. I can kindly and respectfully disagree with or decline an activity that does not bring me joy or will put too much on my plate. You can too.
Several studies have shown that being kind has benefits such as reducing blood pressure, boosting serotonin and dopamine, slowing aging, and improving relationships. Studies have also known that kindness is contagious. In a world where we are focused on not spreading anything that is contagious, it is refreshing to be able to tell students that kindness is contagious and that we WANT it to spread.
We often teach children to be kind to others, but what about being kind to themselves? Being kind to others can easily be shown to children through sharing toys, inviting others to play at recess, making a card for someone, etc. It is harder to explain to children how to be kind to themselves, but adults can do this through modeling. When speaking to children in grades K-5, I asked students questions about showing kindness to others and the participation was fantastic. The minute I asked them, “What do you love about yourself?” and “How can you show kindness to yourself?” it was as if a car hit the brakes and the tires screeched to a halt.
Let me ask you, what do you love about yourself?
By simply carving out time to ask that question, we can create time and energy to explore that question. Inviting both children and adults to write a love letter to themselves is great way to practice this idea. In paragraph, list form or even through illustrations, write or draw everything that you love about yourself. What makes you proud? What makes you feel happy? What do you love about your physical appearance? What do you love about your mental resilience? Part of the issue with this question is that it can make us uncomfortable. Sometimes we need to get uncomfortable to better understand ourselves and see growth.
Kindness and empathy need to be exercised as if you are training for a marathon. The more we practice kindness and show empathy to others and ourselves, the easier it becomes. We will not only be able to accept kindness, recognize what we love about ourselves, but we will also be more aware of looking for opportunities to spread kindness. Similar to tossing a stone in a pond, the ripple effect of kindness can spread well beyond where it started.
World Kindness Day is celebrated on November 13, but should be celebrated every single day. What kind act will you do today? What kindness and self-love will you show yourself today?
(Waving my magic wand.)
Kindness matters. Pass it on.
Book: The Kindness Machine
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2 thoughts on “World Kindness Day 2022”
Wow. You girl. I hope you hear back from the Washington Post!
Thank you for the important reminder.