Kindness is not my natural state. At least not in the micro-kindness sense of the word. I haven’t always been the first to smile at strangers, chat up acquaintances or treat customer service reps with respect. But I’m learning.
Since I was a child, I’ve been a big fan of big kindness. Since I participated in a life-changing service project in 1976, helping dig the muck and mud out of basements in Rexburg, Idaho, after the flood resulting from the failure of the Teton Dam, I have had a passion for that sort of work.
For the past decade, I’ve been working to solve the world’s biggest problems: climate change, poverty and global health. Only slowly have I begun to see the clear connection between micro-kindnesses and solving the world’s big problems.
For years, I believed that smiling at strangers simply didn’t address the significant issues. One of the first aha moments for me was while attending a conference in Mexico on ending poverty. Someone pointed out correctly that many of the staff at the resort where we held the conference were among the very people we hoped to help.
Katharine Hayhoe, profiled in Superpowers for Good, is a renowned climate scientist whose unique skill is helping people skeptical about climate change accept its truth. Deeply religious herself, she’s incredibly effective at helping Christians better understand the science. To do this, she has mastered the art of kindness, finding common ground for building a rapport that leads to climate action. Kindness even fights climate change!
Suddenly, I could see the genuine humanity of the person who tidied my room each day. What a shift in perspective! Too often, I had seen people who work for businesses as a manifestation of the company rather than as human beings. Now, I can see their humanity (though I am far from perfect).
So, when my friend Tobie Spears, who runs the nonprofit Guatemalan Humanitarian Tours, reached out to me to ask me to help her make November #kindnessmonth, I jumped at the chance. I need the practice! Another friend, author Jodi Orgill Brown, has joined the effort.
Tobie prepared a list of ideas for kindness to help people like me.
As you can see, she’s prepared a list of 30 different kindness ideas so you can do a different one every day. You can join the effort by striving to be kind every day this month to help make the world a kinder place.
Let me be clear, however, that whatever kindness you do counts! Whether or not it’s on the list! Even if you repeat the same kindness every day. Be your kindest self.
Many micro-kindnesses add up to significance. Don’t hold back. Do big kindnesses when you can, too! Our collective kindness will help.
Let’s make November #kindnessmonth! Share your kindness reports in the comments!