Act, Don’t React

My family and I recently had the honor of spending the day in Scotts Valley, where we attended a “Kindness Assembly” at the high school (with motivational speaker Keith Hawkins), visited the middle school and got a tour of the local fire department. Many people asked me about the #imkinderthanthat movement and its inception. I explained to them about my nieces and nephew and the message that I was trying to send to them. The more I talked about it, the more I realized how important the lesson was to ME and how much it had changed MY life.

One of my old friends recently said to me, “You’re so much nicer now”. I didn’t take this as an insult, and I don’t think that I wasn’t nice before, but I do think that the #imkinderthanthat movement has made me infinitely more mindful of my action and REACTIONS. In dealing with people, instead of instantly being on the defensive, I find myself thinking about their feelings and motivation. I don’t react negatively when someone else isn’t behaving the way that I want them to. I actually take the time to consider what might be happening in their lives. I honestly say to myself over and over, all day long, “I’m kinder than that”. This makes all the difference.

It used to be easy for me to react and judge people. I know, that sounds terrible, but it’s true. I think that the majority of us do it pretty regularly. We are programmed for it. You are standing in line in Starbucks and you look at the people around you. What is she wearing? Why he talking so loudly? She’s overweight. He looks like he didn’t shower today. Why is everyone annoying me? It goes on and on. Admit it, you do it too.

Now, when one of those thoughts creeps into my brain, I am immediately snapped to attention with a resounding “I’m kinder than that”. I realize that whatever judgement I am making about them or reaction that I am having, has a negative effect on both of us. And while these previous judgements were only going on in my head, I can’t tell you how good it feels to NOT to let those negative thoughts invade my psyche. Not making those judgements about other people and not reacting negatively in certain situations has in turn made me feel better about myself. I own my kindness. It’s pretty amazing that four little words can make such a difference…but honestly, they do.

I believe so deeply in this movement and how large of a role kindness plays in our lives. We must own our kindness, teach children the importance of it, and spread it everywhere we go. Today and every day, be kinder than that.