Do you ever think about what people say about you when you aren’t there?
I totally do. Not really because I care desperately about what people think, but mostly because I’m painfully curious.
I’ve actually thought more about this topic since having Henry. Maybe it’s something about having a little human that has me thinking about leaving some sort of legacy.
I’m not trying to make it into history books. But I do hope to make it into a few people’s hearts. Which leads me to this year. Do you know what I would really love people to say about me?
“Kim is so kind.”
And here’s the truth … I don’t think people would say that about me. I probably wouldn’t say it about myself. And it’s not that I’m being hard on myself. It’s just that I’ve never truly spent time focusing on being kind. To others and to myself.
That doesn’t mean I’m intentionally unkind or rude. I smile a lot. I try to be positive. But I’ve been thinking about kindness a lot in the past few months. I look around and see a lot of ugliness. I see violence and inequality and judgement and mean-spirited opinions at every turn.
I don’t want to perpetuate the ugliness. Do you know what I do want?
- I want my son to see and hear me being kind to others, regardless of whether I agree with them. I never want him to hear me calling people names or degrading them, even in the privacy of our home. And then I want him to continue that behavior.
- I want my husband to know understand that his wife believes in him and treats him with respect and kindness – to his face and in front of others.
- I want people around me to feel encouraged and uplifted after spending time with me – not the other way around.
- I want to surprise strangers, friends and family with kindness.
- I want to do kind and generous things without expecting anything in return.
- I want to feel content and comfortable with myself – by being kind to myself.
That’s sort of a lot. And it’s not something I can really measure any progress by just writing it. And I wasn’t really sure where to begin.
So I started thinking about other ways to think about kindness.
And here’s the thing – this is NOT focusing on RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS. These are wonderful and uplifting and fun. But I don’t want this to be random. And I don’t really want to focus only on strangers.
I really want to be kind daily to those who are closest to me – and to myself. I think it’s an important designation because, in my opinion, it’s a lot easier to be kind to a stranger who you only meet for a moment and buy their coffee. (I also think it’s awesome and you can buy my coffee anytime.)
But for me, it’s more difficult to be kind when someone annoys me. Or when someone says something I disagree with on Facebook. Or when someone insults myself or my family.
So … do I “do” something each month (reminiscent of The Happiness Project **affiliate link**)? While I like this idea, it felt a little too forced for me. And I was afraid if kindness became a check off the list, it would feel really fake. For example, if I sent an encouraging note to someone, would it “count” as being kind? And would I only be doing it for the sake of the goal and the blog?
Instead, I’m creating a bit of a kindness manifesto. And hoping that I can make progress on it throughout the year.
Encourage kindness within my home.
I want to default to kindness with my family – and I want to help Henry do the same. (I’m not going to speak for Ryan, and he already does a wonderful job.) I hope this kindness will also extend beyond our four walls. I want to be encouraging to those around me through my words and actions.
Focus on contentment.
In many ways, I think kindness comes from contentment within. I keep thinking that a big part of the kindness I extend to others is really an expression of myself. Because when I’m happy and content, I tend to be less prone to fits of anger.
And I know I need to work on being more content with myself and what we have. I tend to want more and think ahead – but I also want to be more conscious of the beautiful life we have in the present.
Is there anything more kind than being a great listener? I’m going to really work on this in 2016. Because there is nothing more aggravating than being cut off mid-sentence by someone who isn’t listening to you. And I don’t want to be formulating my own reply when someone else is speaking.
Limit my own complaints.
I want to spend my time being positive instead of complaining about all the world’s problems. I want to say more positive things than negative. So, if there was a chart of “things Kim said,” it would be really heavy on the positive.
That doesn’t mean life is perfect. And it doesn’t mean I can never complain. But it does mean that I don’t want to make that my default.
Give people the benefit of the doubt instead of jumping to judgement.
I think most of us snap to judgements, myself included. But I really want to remind myself that most people are just doing their best and deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Don’t weigh in on polarizing and hateful content.
All the ugly and hateful stuff on the Internet (and in person) is exhausting. I’m done with the nasty stuff.
When I spot something that is downright ugly, I’m out. This likely means that I’ll be spending less time on social media (which is long overdue, really). And I think this may be a huge feat in an election year.
Note: This doesn’t mean I won’t have opinions and won’t express them. But I don’t think that the way many express those opinions is kind or helpful – especially in an online setting. And I refuse to feed the trolls.
Find ways to give back – and do it without lots of fanfare.
I wouldn’t say I’m a naturally generous person. But I want to change that – giving to causes I believe in. And I would love to find a way to serve others.
A giant disclaimer.
I’m actually pretty terrified to put this out into the universe. I’ve spent three days revising this and deleting it and rewriting it. Because I’m really concerned about how it will come across and whether I can really live up to a goal of kindness.
I mean – how can I really measure my own kindness? (Answer: I can’t.) And what if people think I’m acting holier-than-thou? (Because I’m truly not holier than anyone.)
My personality isn’t going to change. I’ll still be snarky and sarcastic and ridiculous and silly. I’ll still mess up and get into funks and act a fool. But I hope I can do this and still be kind overall.
- Will I be perfect? No.
- Do I need you to call me out when I mess up? Maybe. (But kindly, please.)
- Could I use a little grace? Definitely.
But I really needed this. I needed a little more kindness in my life. I needed to give more kindness, encouragement and grace to others.
So there it is. My goal is really selfish. I want kindness myself – so I’ll start trying to give it.