What is kindness?
Why does it seem to be so important to us, showing up in all of our traditions, across cultures?
When asking a six year old, she stops to think for a second, “Mmmhhh….” then with a very serious look, says, “It’s like, when you’re nice.”
Nice. The one word, nice, that holds so little juiciness or meaning. Too often it’s used when you just can’t think of any other adjective, and doesn’t really end up describing a whole lot.
So I prompt her again. How do you show being nice? This time, a smile comes to her face, and a little laugh, “Well, you help a friend, or you ask someone if they want to play.”
Now we’re getting somewhere.
In the sea of six-year old faces, I tell them I want to see how you feel when someone asks you to play. I see toothless smiles, eyes scrunched up tight, hands clapping, bodies bobbing up in excitement. Happiness exudes from their pores.
At this, I prompt them further: How else do you show kindness?
“I read a story to my little brother.” “I show my sister how to brush her teeth.” “I smile at people.” “I give a compliment to my friend – but a real one that’s really true.”
While talking about each of these acts, the kids’ demeanors transform. They’re smiling, excited, engaged. They are feeling joyful at the thought of bringing joy to someone else. The feelings that go along with kindness, is one of the reasons why these actions are so pivotal to who we are, and who we want to be.
Now, how do you show your kindness?