Have you already dropped the ball on a resolution or two for the year 2021? I have. That box of homemade cookies practically begged me to indulge! (Don’t want them to get stale!) And I conveniently misplaced the therapy paper with the exercises for my wounded foot! Yep, I hear you. Only a few hours old and 2021 is already burdened with the detritus of good intentions.
But, alas, we can do something about it. We can make a resolution to be kind, more kind than usual, with a simple mindset that will keep us from forgetting. It’s a proactive resolution to do something rather than refrain from something. And, its beneficiary is someone else, not oneself. Psychologists say “…that it takes five positive impressions to offset one negative impression,” according to an op-ed published in The Cleveland Plain Dealer inspired by Edward Kraus and Stuart Muszynski. In an earlier op-ed which they had written, they were advocating an initiative called “Kindland” led by the Values-in-Action Foundation in conjunction with over 120 organizations in Northeast Ohio ranging from restaurants, churches, school districts, law enforcement, publishers and many more. “Kindland” asks each of us to document any act of kindness using #kindland on any social media platform documenting 1 million acts of kindness in Northeast, Ohio, by the end of 2021. Most of you, my readers, do not live in Northeast Ohio but you can at least practice an act of kindness every day and perhaps start by creating a mindset that you will be conscious of doing this when you rise each morning and anticipate the day ahead.
Critics might argue that one does acts of kindness anonymously or that practicing one’s religion always motivates kindness. True, you can still be anonymous and you can still do it out of faith, but an act of kindness does require some intention, some planning. The idea of recording these acts is to create a visible aggregate that might inspire people elsewhere in the city and the country. It also helps all of us to retain a faith in humanity which may have eroded a bit during this challenging year.
Such is the purpose of Kind World, a radio show out of Boston’s WBUR which hosts a podcast titled “A Moment of Kindness” where listeners across the country call in to share a story of a kindness they experienced.
I suggest we do the Evening Examen of St. Ignatius requiring a few minutes before retiring to see if we have done an act of kindness during the day. And after the examination, simply make a check mark on a calendar that you did such an act. I know that God does not keep numerical tabs of our good acts. It seems reductive in the practice of your faith. But psychologically it helps you see that doing an act of kindness contributes to your positive state of mind.
Can I do simple things as acts of kindness? Send a card, make a phone call, bake cookies for a neighbor, listen to someone?
Can you share with other readers what someone may have done for you out of kindness, or can you share what you have done for someone that produced a surprising outcome?
Can you join #kindland and participate in the movement to create a kinder city and nation?