Tuesday, October 11, 2011

life lessons: be kind

The Jesuit motto, alleged to be attributed to Francis Xavier, the co-founder of the Jesuit Order, wrote, "Give me a child until they are seven, and I will give you the man." The implication of that statement is that the best opportunity to indoctrinate a lifetime of belief and devotion in to a person, is the first seven years of their life.

My children will be seven later this week. So I've got three days to impress upon them what I believe to be the most important lessons I'll ever teach. And then, I'll have what will hopefully be the rest of my long life to expose them to good people that will help to reinforce those lessons by example.


Children, in your lifetime, you will be presented with an abundance of opportunities to be kind.
Seize them.


Guard your words carefully and resist the temptation to demonstrate your intelligence at someone else's expense. While you might feel superior in the moment, that feeling seldom lasts long and can have devastating effects on your psyche.
It was once said that, "
The kindest word in all the world …. is the unkind word, unsaid."

It is my hope that each of you become a Master of Kind Words.


In about the same degree as you are helpful, you will be happy. ~Karl Reiland

So as you meander through life, try your best to help others. Look for opportunities to lift people's spirits, whether by holding open a door - bringing a sick neighbor a meal - or sending a cheery letter of support to someone that you love.

Because that's what kindness is. It's not doing something for someone else because they can't, but because you can. ~Andrew Iskander


In the 19th century, Darwin proposed that facial expressions don't only reflect emotions, but actually CAUSE them. And more recently, research has shown, smiling will make you happier. So even if you're not feeling like it, smile.

And e
veryday, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.
~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Take the time to acknowledge people and when you speak, look people in the eye and keep your attention focused. Focused on that person you're talking with and not on the conversation happening next to you, or your own reflection in the mirror, or worst of all - the text message that just came through on your phone.

Exert kindness to waiters and janitors and the grumpy cashier in the checkout line.

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. ~Mark Twain


Kindness is gentleness. Kindness is tolerance. Kindness is compassion. Kindness is welcoming a four-year-old boy to swim with you and your friend, when you're a totally cool teenager.

Kindness is teaching that four-year-old how to do a cannonball and gladly accepting his small hand when he tries to help you up a ladder. Kindness is giving him a high-five and saying, "That was fun, buddy! Maybe we'll see you again, tomorrow!"

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. ~George Washington Carver

Life Lesson #1: Always do your best to be kind.

Believe me, I know!

This won't always be easy!

Just ask your grandmother about the day that she volunteered to drive her house-bound friend somewhere, and that friend turned out to be a real pain in the passenger seat keester, who distracted her to the point that she got in to an automobile accident. And before the smoke had even settled, that friend hopped out of the car and loudly shared with the entire world (aka: witnesses) that they are an expert on automobile collisions because they've been in so many accidents that they've lost their license. And that "friend" will then proceed to point their finger at your wonderful grandmother and defiantly conclude that the accident was COMPLETELY HER FAULT.

God won't ask what kind of car you drove, but will ask how many people you drove home who didn't have transportation. (In my opinion, you're due extra points if that transportation-less person causes you to get in to an accident and then blames it on you.)

If you ever find yourself in a situation such as this, summon the strength to be kind even under duress. Like your grandmother, simply smile and say, "It's just a car, a material possession. It's really not anything important!"

Thankfully, your grandmother knows very well that as John Woodsen wrote, "You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."

(Even if that someone may be a person who should be hit over the head with a purse.)


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