GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 22, 2013

Personal Matters: Begin each month with a Kindness Day

Personal Matters
Susan Britt

---- — Tomorrow, what if:

Another driver waves you into a parking space he could have taken.

You give money to a homeless man begging on the street, and ask him if he wants help instead of condemning people who cannot work.

Someone gives you a flower for no reason in particular.

You offer to help someone with their grocery bags.

Someone holds a door for you and you say “thank you.”

Your boss tells you to go home early because he or she knows you’re not well.

Family members surprise you by doing your usual household chores.

“Thank you” and “please” enter your vocabulary more often.

You offer your seat on the bus to another.

You not only tip the restaurant server, but tell him or her how much you appreciated his good service.

You put a quarter in a parking meter so some person unknown to you won’t receive a ticket.

The world around us suddenly becomes a kinder place. This is how life could be if all of us behaved with more kindness. Life on this planet could change dramatically if each of us made an effort to verbally express, and act out simple kindnesses with fellow human beings. If we can start and maintain a kindness consciousness, we can overcome the harsh sense of separation and alienation that seems to be a growing part of daily life in our country.

For quite a while now, I have been thinking about how to encourage a sustained atmosphere of kindness in our society. My suggestion is that each of us designate the first day of each month as our own personal Kindness Day, so that each first day of the month we actively work, in small ways, to change the way we live and interact with each other, thereby improving the quality of life for all of us.

We could begin our Kindness Day by evaluating our behavior, our compassion levels and our attitudes toward others. When we come in contact with people during the course of each day, how do we act? Do we smile when we first see them? Do we greet them in a friendly welcoming way?

Do we compliment them on something? Do we ask them about their health and their families? Do we give them our undivided attention when they speak to us? Are we open to ideas that are different from our own? Do we thank them for any help or information they give us?

These are just some of the behaviors that we can incorporate into our daily lives to enhance our kindness attitude toward others. It is really about paying attention to the needs — physical, mental and emotional — of others and treating them with the respect and courtesy that we appreciate when we each experience it from others. When we behave in this way, we become more involved and connected to those around us, and for them and you the world feels like a safer, warmer, gentler place.

If we each begin the month with a conscious effort to be kinder, perhaps the kindness habit will grow and become contagious. So let’s begin. Let’s be kinder to ourselves and others.

Rockport-based life coach and psychotherapist Susan Britt, M.Ed., teaches people to resolve relationship conflicts, clarify and achieve goals, and accelerate personal growth. Questions and comments may be addressed to her at susanbritt1@verizon.net or 978-546-9431.