“Make your heart like a lake, with calm, still surface and great depths of kindness.” – Lao Tzu 

I received a poem from someone not so long ago. I was surprised. I was honored. I was moved. I was touched not only by the content of the poem, but even more by the essence behind the poem:

There is a quality, a fragrance, an intention behind the content of our language. This individual observed writing is important to me. She observed I have an affinity for poetry. Beyond this, she took the time and thoughtful effort to convey her love. I’m glad I shared my tears with her that day. She had given me a generous gift of kindness.

It’s the same idea when a child throws some sweet scribbles on a paper and hands it to you with a bright smile and outstretched arms. There’s love, beauty, and kindness behind that gesture.

Here’s what I’ve learned about kindness:

Kindness Dos:

  • Kindness comes in all shapes and sizes. Appreciate all.
  • Give genuinely. Kindness feels good for the one who wholeheartedly gives and for the one who openly receives.
  • Give without any fear of loss, lack, or regret.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Being kind to others is related to how you feel about yourself.
  • Give more and you will have more to give.
  • Be excited for the opportunity to do good. Good is good, no matter what.

Kindness Don’ts:

  • Kindness is not about keeping score. Don’t expect a “thank you,” recognition, or acknowledgement for your kindness. Give and let go. Let kindness flow like a river in your life, instead of becoming stuck on it and creating a dam.
  • Kindness doesn’t mean you do everything for everyone. Honoring yourself by saying yes when you can and no when you need, are important in setting boundaries for yourself and within relationships.
  • Don’t give because “you should.” You don’t have to do anything. Give because you choose to.

I encourage you to spend time with each point and see how it might resonate in your own life.

Or, here’s some additional food-for-thought writing prompts: What does kindness mean to you? Why be kind? What are the risks of not being kind?

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