Character VirtuesParentingPeace

Let’s focus on kindness

Let’s see if every day this month we can do something kind, and notice one act of kindness! 🙂

Kindness month in our family commenced. We had armed ourselves with multiple kindness action checklists, suggestions and prompts; from the vast array on offer. These abound on kindness related web sites (as outlined in my previous blog) and in parenting books and character education books.

It seemed like a fairly straightforward process. We all know what kindness is….let’s focus on it and see what happens. As Robin S Sharma says: “What you focus on grows, what you think about expands, and what you dwell upon determines your destiny.”

My basic premiss was that setting an intention to undertake one act of kindness a day, and, notice one act of kindness per day; would have a positive impact on a family. Every day, each family member would briefly recount these acts. Gradually, performing acts of kindness may become a habit, and our awareness of kindness increase. Essentially, the world would become a kinder place.

Here is a list of a few of the discoveries made during ‘Kindness month’:

* When asked to nominate a kind person, the majority mention a grandparent or other, older relative. Older neighbours were the next most popular response.

* Very few teenagers could immediately identify a kind classmate. However, over the course of the month they were happy if they eventually recognised someone as kind. This usually required persistence and a lot of prompting (the ‘kind’ classmate was usually a quieter teenager).

* The timing of the ‘kindness discussion’ needs to be extremely flexible and preferably appear spontaneous to teenagers (which is pretty difficult when you consider it also needs to be front of mind and a daily agenda item).

* If the act of kindness was unique and unexpected, everyone shared a warm feeling at the time it occurred, and each time it was mentioned. These were the most powerful and uplifting moments of our month.

* If the ‘kindness discussion’ was entered into too* late in the day, the mere mention of kindness became an irritation (* ‘too late’ is a moving target).

* Kindness gradually became a familiar and pleasant shared topic of conversation.

* Some teenagers become rebellious at the mere mention of a ‘kindness month’ – ‘When someone tells me to do something, it makes me angry and I immediately don’t want to do it.’ Others, seemed unimpressed or neutral regarding the idea, but really blossomed during the month.

* One day a teenager impulsively nominated his sister to get the ‘kindness award’ for the day, when he noticed and was pleased with something she did. His parents nearly fainted with surprise and joy.

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible” The Dalai Lama

“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change” Bob Kerrey

The Path to Inner Peace

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Experiment with peaceful habits, along with us, and let me know about your experiences. Together we can make a positive difference. Our intentions, thoughts, words and actions matter!