It’s the New Year and we have a resolution for you: be kind!
(Enjoy the following guest post from Julia Wen, cello faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago and the Music for Youth program in Arlington Heights, IL)
One of the more popular New Year’s Resolutions, being kind is such an admirable goal to pursue. So ambitious. But it’s so ambiguous.
What does it really mean to be kind? You only say nice things? You smile more? Then, what happens when someone pushes that button and snap?! There goes your kindness and resolution in one fell swoop.
If you’re interested in making strides towards kindness, try specificity. Just like practicing, we need to know exactly what we want to do, why we want to do it, how long we’re going to pursue it, and how we plan on executing it.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, kindness is “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” We’ve narrowed it down to three traits – we know what we’re aiming for.
Now it’s the why – and that’s up to you. To strengthen a relationship? To develop a certain character trait? Once you’ve pinpointed the why, it comes to the how.
Here, we can get a little help. Author, speaker, and social researcher Shaunti Feldhahn initiated a 30 Day Kindness Challenge that involves the development of three specific habits towards one person for a period of 30 days. They are:
- Do not say anything negative to this person or speak negatively about him/her.
- Every day, find one praiseworthy thing about this individual and tell him/her face-to-face or tell someone else.
- Perform one small act of kindness for this person on a daily basis. It can be as small as writing an encouraging note or getting him/her a cup of coffee.
Did you notice that Feldhahn encourages her resolution makers to respond with service?
Instead of reacting to someone’s annoyances or irritating habits, she suggests friendly, generous, and considerate activity. It’s putting others before yourself. That’s kindness. So, this year, take advantage of the “be kind” resolution.
You’ve got the what, why, and how!