Kindness is the answer. We need Kindness. Huge Kindness.

What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness.
— Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

We need kindness. Oh, the world right now needs so much kindness. We need big kindness. We need huge kindness. We need badass kindness.

Physicians have to take an oath that states, “Do no harm.” I wish that all of humanity would have to take that oath. Imagine a world where everyone had to take an oath that said, “Do no harm.” Or imagine it one better: A world where everyone took an oath to Be Kind.

I have worked all over the world and all over my own country and I can tell you this: People want the same things. They want to see their children tucked in bed at night, peacefully asleep. They want a safe comfortable place to live. They want to do meaningful activity and be able to provide for their families. They want to eat and laugh and drink with their friends and loved ones. That’s all. Everything else is extra. And if any of those things are missing, then the extra doesn’t matter. Are there bad guys in the world? Yes. But they are the exception. Not the rule.

We need kindness in a world that seems to have forgotten it. The internet and social media have such potential as a way to spread information and joy, and yet there is too much sarcasm, and too much hate. From every possible side. And there is really only one cure for all of this darkness: and that is kindness.

And yes, you may think kindness is naïve. It’s not. Kindness is not naïve, despite its simplicity. It has been a tenet of religion and philosophy for ages: all religions.  And most philosophies. 

Kindness has stood the test of time. But Kindness isn’t easy. It is easier to stay small and closed off. It is easier to be mean or sarcastic because it doesn’t require anything of you. Kindness takes muscles. Kindness takes effort, restraint, stretching and most of all courage: kindness requires that you will open your heart, you will feel yourself in the relationship, you will grow. 

Want to add kindness but not sure how? Start with Do No Harm. Thinking about writing that snarky thing on FaceBook, or ranting back at someone: Don’t. Look for a place to write something kind instead. Add kindness to the world. Or if you can’t manage kind, add beauty, add creativity, add love. Or simply go outside and sit in the sun and look around at the world. Sometimes we aren’t kind because we are tired. It’s okay. Rest. Be grateful. Be humble. Be still. Let your kindness grow.

Random acts of kindness are good. Intentional Acts of Kindness are Great. Write a thank you note to someone who helped you in your life and doesn’t even know that they did. Bring flowers to someone who could use them. Mow someone’s lawn. Text a friend who you miss seeing. Donate your used clothes. Bring food to a food bank. Make your famous cookies. Listen to someone’s story.

Kindness is compassion in action. It requires you to be brave sometimes. When someone on your team at work starts saying something negative about someone else, you can say, “We don’t talk about people like that here.” And then change the subject, say something kind about someone.

So if you are wondering what to do about the problems in the world--do the kindest thing you can do right now. If you are wondering how to get more from your employees or co-workers at work. Try the kind thing. If you are wondering how to shift the mood in your house or your office: try kindness. 

And kindness is not just about other people. Kindness is first and foremost an inside job: start with yourself. Start where you are. Start by saying something kind to yourself instead of what you were going to say. Take care of yourself. Get rest. Get food. Stay nourished. If you are kind to yourself you will have more to give others. Like the Roman fountains, the kindness in your bowls will build up until they naturally spill out to others. If we all did it, it would be endless.

© Gretchen L. Schmelzer, PhD 2015

If someone is too tired to give you a smile, leave one of your own, because no one needs a smile as much as those who have none to give.
— Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
— Desmond Tutu
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.
— Dalai Lama
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
— Ephesians: 4:32
Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.
— Kahlil Gibran
There is a reward for kindness in every living-thing.
— Prophet Muhammad
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted
— Aesop
Goodness is the only investment that never fails.
— Henry David Thoreau