The one thing about getting older is the ability to look back and see what kind of person you’ve become. Were we nice as children? Did we play fairly with other children and hardly argued with our parents and siblings? Were we kind to our teachers and school administrators? Did we say thank you and please and truly appreciated the people who helped us? Were all of these behaviors and attitudes learned and taught to us, or was there an inherent gene somewhere in our body that told us to naturally be nice and gracious?
As the saying goes, “nature over nurture”, sometimes I wonder why a person is kind or compassionate to another. I’ve certainly met my share of unkind people in my life and I can guess that they were not treated kindly or fairly in their formative years. For children, the innate ability to see the world as it is also gives them the ability to be less judgmental. But as we grow older and live life through good and bad experiences, our attitudes change and our views of the world and people change as well. But that should not be the excuse to be cruel or hurtful. No one has a perfect life, but our choices truly can define us when we’re older.
January is national Kindness Month and schools around the country are encouraging students, staff, and families to take this month to show some kindness. Would it be so wonderful if people were kind all the time. But alas, we do our best regardless of how people treat us. At my school, we are hosting a Kindness Week in January with each day of the week highlighting and fostering kindness, inclusivity, and compassion. Perhaps you can try doing this at your children’s school or your workplace. There are some great non-profit organizations that help build and spread kindness during Kindness Month as well as year-round. Check out some ideas below to foster kindness in your own home and community!
- The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation ( https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/) – a website full of wonderful, easy, and age-appropriate ideas for kids and adults. I’ve applied a lot of these ideas for school and work and they’re super easy and creative.
- The Great Kindness Challenge (https://thegreatkindnesschallenge.com/) – fun and inspirational activities and ideas for all ages. You can also order some Kindness gifts on their website for gifts to students and teachers.
- Donations to non-profit organizations. These organizations are similar to charities where your monetary or in-kind donations help them with fundraising, food for shelters, building maintenance, free health care, and so forth.
- Plant trees. Help plant trees at your local parks, schools, or national forests. Trees are incredible resources for providing oxygen, and the power to remove harmful gases like carbon dioxide making the air we breathe healthier. Always check with locations before planting trees on your own. To find a national park in your state, visit: https://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.html
- Community cleanups. You can be a party of two or twenty if you want to help clean up your community and local beaches. Start small or join organizations like Keep America Beautiful (https://kab.org/) where you can find local chapters in your area. Join their groups or start your own. Cleaning up your neighborhood and community fosters a healthy and happier environment for all.
Do you have other ideas for promoting kindness and compassion? All it takes is one kind act, and a ripple effect will take place.
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