My children’s school recently started a kindness club. The club meets once a month to do service projects and thoughtful acts. It got me thinking about different ways I can show kindness to others. Am I using thoughtful words? Am I extending grace? Am I encouraging those around me? Sometimes. But I want to do better and that’s why I’m starting a Kindness Club For Moms.
The Kindness Club For Moms isn’t something to add to an already full calendar. It doesn’t have meetings and there are no dues. The only requirement is committing to be a little kinder to others and to ourselves. And while there are no rules, here are a few suggestions that may help all of us extend a little more kindness:
1. Stop the comparison.
Please. We already know comparison is the thief of joy and comparing our hardships with other people’s really doesn’t make anyone feel better. The truth is, everyone has struggles. Something that may seem small to one person may feel overwhelming to another. It doesn’t matter. Every struggle is very real and difficult to the people involved. We just never know what is going on behind the scenes in other people’s lives. That perfect looking couple may have a broken marriage. That well-dressed friend may be struggling with depression or anxiety. That active family may be reeling from a scary health diagnosis. That frazzled mom may have just lost a loved one. That confident acquaintance may have just lost a job. And there are others struggling with difficult life decisions, financial hardship, addiction, difficulty in parenting, and anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. None of us are going to get out of this life unscathed, but we have a choice in how we will react to our circumstances and how we will interact with those around us. Comparison isn’t going to help us show compassion.
2. Don’t assume the worst of others.
Just like we don’t really know the struggles other people are facing, we don’t always know their motives either. Maybe we can try not to assume the worst of others. Everyone deals with their hurt differently. Sometimes distance or anger is a cry for help or a way to cope with very difficult circumstances. Instead of assuming that a friend is mad or a person is just mean, it might help to recognize that they may be hurting. This would be a great time to extend some kindness.
3. Be kind to those who aren’t kind in return.
Sometimes when we show kindness to someone, they show kindness in return. Sometimes they don’t. What about the grumpy cashier at the store? She didn’t return the smile and kind words. How about the guy who cut us off in traffic despite our courteous driving. Oh, and that mean mom at school? We smile and say kind words and receive a snooty response. Again, we don’t really know other people’s motives. Maybe they are trying to be rude and maybe they aren’t. Maybe they are very distracted, hurt, or hiding deep-rooted insecurity. It doesn’t really matter. We show kindness because it’s the right thing to do.
4. Remember that small acts of kindness can go a long way.
A friend of mine recently shared that another mom saw her juggling her six-year-old and infant in a parking lot and stopped to tell her that she is a super mom. The Kindness Club at school put chocolate in teachers’ boxes to wish them a happy Friday. A friend texted to let me know she was thinking of me and hoped I was having a good day. Every act of kindness — from smiling at someone, holding the door for a stranger, offering a listening ear, or complimenting an acquaintance’s outfit — matters. It could be the very thing that brightens someone’s day. It could create a trickle-down effect that brightens many people’s days.
5. We can still be kind when we disagree.
We don’t have to agree with a single thing someone does to show kindness. We can argue in a peaceful way. We can disagree without insulting. Regardless of what we think about another person’s opinions, circumstances, or choices, we can still treat them with kindness and respect. Sometimes this is extremely difficult, but it can be done. And if we can learn to model this for our children, it will make a big difference in the way they interact with one another.
Mamas, don’t underestimate the impact we have on each other and on our children. Our Kindness Club is important. We can treat others the way we want to be treated. It will not only help our relationships, but it will help ourselves.