Couldn't we all use a little more kindness? Isn't the world just a better place when we are kinder to each other?
Lorraine Jara from Toms River, New Jersey, sure thinks so, and I agree.
In August of 1988, she started Be Kind To Humankind Week. She was inspired by the tragic story of the death of a local young man - one that could have been easily prevented with small, simple acts of human kindness.
The young man and his friend were near death after their boat overturned, and a couple of boats who could have easily helped, told the pair, "They didn't want to be bothered." By the time a couple of young women who had nowhere near the resources of the other boats pulled the young men to safety, it was too late for one. He died shortly thereafter,
Jara was heartbroken for their families.
Jara believes that simple acts of kindness matter. She says that kindness should exist daily, but created this movement to take kindness to a noticeable purposed level so that people can see the benefits of being kind to others. Research shows that being kind improves one's health and well-being, and it's obvious that it makes the world a better place to be.
So what can you and your family do for Be Kind to HumanKind Week? Essentially, whatever you want! If it's kind, do it, and make a point to talk with your children about why it's kind and what a difference it makes. The week has seven days of suggested participation, but just about any kind acts that make ripples in this world will show your children what kindness as a way of life looks like.
Related: At This Dividing Time, I Choose Kindness.
1. Sacrifice Wants For Other's Needs.
I love this one! We so often forget how richly blessed we are, and have a hard time realizing the difference between needs and wants. Know a mama who could use a date night? Offer to watch her kids and make that happen! Plan to take a nice comfy nap Sunday afternoon? Instead, offer to mow a neighbor's yard or volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Been saving for something special? Donate that money to a charity you and your child choose together--talk about powerful lessons in sacrificial giving. Spoiler: You'll never regret giving to others in need, even if it is inconvenient sometimes. The difference you make in another's life is so important.
2. Motorist Consideration.
Be honest--that back-to-work/school Monday morning is a mess, isn't it? You're tired from the weekend, and frankly? Not a lot of patience in the tank. Show your family what consideration and kindness can look like in those situations. Did someone cut you off? Keep the naughty words in your head and suggest to your child that perhaps they had an emergency and we should show some grace. Catching every.single.light? Take those stops to enjoy the time with your kids and do 30-second gratitude lists. Heck, you just might find out that a little purposeful motorist consideration makes every drive a bit easier!
Take this day to let people know they are loved! Write some random, "I love you!" notes and put them in places around the house for your loved ones. Leave post-it notes that encourage people to have nice days on cars in parking lots. Give an old friend a call or face time, and let them know you were thinking of them. Express appreciation to mail carriers, trash collectors and/or any other people you rarely do but appreciate so! It'll go a long way for their day and yours!
This is a great day to volunteer locally! Even if it's just contacting a local nursing home and seeing if any residents need any grocery help or errands run, lending your ability to others who may not have such easy access shows your children what helping our fellow human looks like. Soup Kitchens, homeless shelters, and animal shelters almost always have ways families can help out, and your children learn they are part of a community in which they can make a difference.
Related: Kind and Gentle Movies For Your Next Family Movie Night
5. Be Thoughtful.
This is the day we need to put the technology away (maybe!) and pay attention to the people right in front of us! Take an extra minute to be thoughtful...tell the cashier at the grocery store you appreciate her cheery smile. Or, if she doesn't have one? Ask how she's doing, and let her know that you appreciate the effort she is putting in. Send a note to a long-time friend letting them know you've appreciated their support through the years. Notice the good in people around--their lovely smiles, their purposed determination, their commitment to their job or their work, and recognize it in them. We all have it, and it's such a gift when someone recognizes it!
6. Forgive Your Foe.
This is a tough one, and one that my whole family really gets a lot of benefit from. Forgiveness of others is always more about you than it is the other person (though being forgiven feels amazing!), and teaching your children to not hold grudges and learn how to forgive does so much for their own happiness and health. Around the table, or in a comfy family room or at a beautiful park--makes no difference. Just talk about someone who each family member feels has 'wronged' them. Talk about what it must have felt like to be that other person. Discuss how the 'wronging' feels, and what forgiving the other person would look like and require. Trust me, these are conversations you'll find priceless. Go so far as to have each member of the family contact someone, either in person, using technology or a note, and let them know they want to reconcile that relationship. It's life changing, I promise.
7. Speak Kind Words.
Lets be honest. That old adage of 'words never hurting,' is just not true. They do, as does one's tone of voice and body language when speaking. So take this day to talk with your family about kind/unkind words, and more, how the tone of voice can relay sincerity (or not!). Talk about what words make people happy, and what words make them sad. Talk about how kind words can build up, while unkind words break people down. Purpose to watch your tongue, and use the filter of, "Is it kind? Is it loving?" before something comes out.
If it's not? Keep it in your head, and teach your children to try to do so too.