I’m sure many of you have heard of the saying ‘you become what you constantly think about’ - and when you’re always thinking about kindness, it makes you want to always be kind.
Back in 2013, if you can still remember, there was a popular speech that went around. It was a graduation speech by George Saunders and he spoke beautifully about kindness, or rather, failures of kindness. Something I’ll always remember.
One useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?” And they’ll tell you.
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
Those who were kindest to you, I bet.
If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously — as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers. We have to do that, to be our best selves.
It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.
It was a truly inspiring speech, and it made me realise that kindness is not something to be stingy about. You can never go wrong with being kind, and it’s something you’ll never regret being, or doing.
If anything, you'll regret not being kind.
It is a conscious effort to step out of our way and put someone else’s needs and wellbeing ahead of our own. It is a choice that we can make, to choose to react to our circumstances with kindness, all the time.
I have a feeling you'll love it too.