A Circular Progression: Changing Hate to Love

 


Changing Hate to Love Hey ya’ll, and happy Wednesday! Guess what? I’ve got a little, big somethin’ on my mind and in my heart, so I thought we’d have a little chat about changing hate to love.

Here’s the thing – and get ready to get deep with me for a minute here. As human beings, it is perhaps one of our greatest misfortunes that so much of our history is plagued with dark, fear-rooted, often unreasonable, purely wasteful hate. We hate and hurt each other because we are different. We judge and ostracize each other because we don’t agree. We kill each other because we are greedy, self-centered, jealous and cruel. And recent events only confirm this circular progression and perpetuation of senseless, incredibly unproductive hate where I fire, and you fire back, then I fire again, and it never ends, until our spirits are defeated, and there is no one left to fire back at.

Still, on the other side of all of that – we are all basically good (I believe) and basically the same. We all have blood coursing through our veins, thoughts in our heads, people and places that we love, things that we care about, feelings we feel. Every color, every size, every shape, every origin, every preference – smiles, cries, loves and hurts – in much the same way.

And yet, we focus so much on all the ways in which we are different – finding fear in the unknown, thinking we have to understand each other in order to respect each other, believing we have to love or get along with everyone in order to believe they are worthy of the same rights we enjoy, thinking basic kindness should only be reserved for those who reflect back what we see in our own mirrors. We work against each other instead of with each other – toward war instead of toward change. We pick and choose who we deem worthy of basic humanity. We perpetuate hate. We feed it. We light it up. And in the end, nothing is accomplished. Our problems get bigger, our pain becomes deeper, and our lives become broken.

There’s another way. We can start changing hate to love today if we just try to be a little more intentional with our interactions, and open our hearts a little more to the basic humanity we all share. Think about it. What if we just focused on all of the ways in which we are human, and made a real, conscious effort to lead with love and light – whenever possible and as much as possible – and left everything else behind? Couldn’t we be more productive, more efficient, more fulfilled, healthier, happier, brighter, and less plagued? Couldn’t we start changing hate to love? I think so.

And listen, I can’t change your ideas, your beliefs or your prejudices – whatever they may be, but I just urge you to think in terms of kindness, think in terms of humanity, think in terms of our shared experiences rather than our polarizing fears. Remember that the hate you emanate breeds darkness and contempt in your own life and heart – and in the lives and hearts of those you care about too. Wouldn’t you like to see a little changing-hate-to-love action happening in your own life and between those you love?

Don’t worry. We can start small. Let’s be nice to each other – classic, simple, straightforward NICE. Let’s open doors for each other and forgive people when they bump into us. Let’s say please and thank you. Let’s offer up a hand and help. Let’s not respond to hate with hate – let’s think for a moment that maybe a person who is being hateful is suffering – maybe they had a bad day, maybe they don’t feel well, maybe they’re scared – and let’s fire back with a smile. Let’s start changing hate to love. Let’s say good morning. Let’s say excuse me. Let’s be polite to people we don’t understand, to people different from us, to people who might scare us. Let’s be open and honest. Let’s communicate. Let’s not pick and choose who we are kind to on a daily basis – instead – let’s just choose kindness – every time. Let’s start changing hate to love!

I’m not saying these small acts will change our deeply wounded world in moments, days, months or even years – but the sum of days full of small decisions to lead with light and love instead of with darkness and hate – I believe can begin to mobilize slow, meaningful, purposeful, continuous change, and light a path towards something better so that future generations can live in a world with a little more understanding, a whole lot more love, and a little less war.

I don’t know – maybe I’m being overly simplistic or entirely idealistic. Still, call me crazy if you must, but I think it might just work. Come on – are you up for it? Let’s band together and start changing hate to love today.

Love,
Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Photo © Ivelinr | Dreamstime.com – Love Or Hate Photo

Let’s Discuss: The Stigmatization of Depression

Depression Defined

Hi folks. Let’s get a little serious today, shall we?

As you all probably already know, the passing of our beloved Robin Williams and the somewhat ironic circumstances under which it occurred, has spurred a lot of conversation over the last few days. Some of it has been sweet and thoughtful. Some of it has been tasteless and cruel. And some of it has uncomfortably settled somewhere in-between the two. With this surging debate on depression and mental illness, suicide, and our misconceptions about what kinds of folks are susceptible to this stuff, I suddenly felt a need to candidly speak on the topic. So here it goes.

When I first heard the news, I was shocked – as I think most of us were. I can’t say that I ever thought of Robin Williams and depression in the same sentence before, or even remotely at the same time even though it turns out he’d been struggling for years. And perhaps that is one of the biggest lessons in all of this – that depression can surface is some of the most unlikely places.

Think about it for a minute. How could depression be a choice, a weakness in character or nothing more than situational sadness – as it is often stigmatized in society and in the media – and still have found a way to attack an incredibly accomplished and loved man with a spectacular career – a man who possessed an inspiring talent big enough to bring joy and laughter to so many people around the world? Doesn’t that demonstrate the power of deep, intrinsic sadness and how predatory it can be? I’d say so.

And yet, after scrolling through dozens of sympathetic and shock-filled social media posts regarding William’s passing and the circumstances behind it, there it was – the inevitable judgment, hatred and mis-education that [sadly] compromises so much of today’s online experience. Words like coward, suicide promotion, choice and selfish began to fill the commentary – and I thought how lovely – listen to these people who have likely never dealt with actual addiction or depression passing judgment on something they don’t understand. As I read more and more, I came across an increasing number of individuals turning the sad passing of a legend into an opportunity to spew hate and spread rampant mis-information just because they can, and just because they have easy access to a mass audience that will listen.

Come on folks. Haven’t we learned this lesson time and time again already? Don’t we all know by now that it is from hate that so much of the evil in our world stems? When we hate, stigmatize and blame, we shut people off – we leave no room for healing and we invite more pain. In our society, depression and mental illness is often so stigmatized and so silenced, that many of those who suffer from it are forced to suffer in silence. They do not seek the proper help. They attempt to fix something that is much bigger than themselves by self-medicating or taking other measures. And then when it becomes too much to handle all alone, we judge them. We call them cowards. We view the sympathy and understanding of others as the promotion of suicide. We point fingers, and we blame. But rarely do we truly understand what was going on inside that person’s brain, inside his or her feelings, inside that broken heart, that would have driven them to take such extreme measures. Can you imagine how big the turmoil has to be to get there? I can. 

I have been there. I have suffered from depression, and it’s still something I have to work on every day — fighting it with everything I have. Doesn’t it all make a little more sense now? Yes. That is a large part of the reason why I push positivism so much, why I work so hard to find the good in all the nooks and crannies of everyday life – it’s why I fight – because fighting is what has helped me escape that darkness, stay healthy and become a source of light – at least I hope – to others.

You see, depression is a very strange and powerful force. I know firsthand how hard it can be to explain to people who have been fortunate enough to never experience it how tangible and real depression can actually be. To me, depression is best described as this hopeless, gaping, stinging feeling right in the middle of your chest – it causes physical exhaustion, random tears, sometimes outlandish thoughts, desperation, restlessness and a long list of other things. When it’s really bad, your body literally hurts and the thought of getting up or going out to complete the smallest little task – hurts even more. Smiling hurts. Conversation hurts. Pretending — it hurts. At times, your bed starts to feel like the only safe, comfortable place in the world – where the pain seems to subside even if only for temporary relief, and so you cling to it.

Often you just have no idea why you feel this way – and that right there can feel sufficiently maddening. You think, well, nothing is particularly wrong right now. Why am I so sad? Am I going crazy? What is wrong with me? These questions only serve to amp up the hopelessness and self-loathing – and the vicious cycle continues to spiral out of control, often gaining dangerous momentum.

Luckily for me, through the grace of God, the universe or who knows what, I have been able to work through my depression, and I have stayed relatively free of it for the last few years — with only short-lived bouts here and there. Still it is always there – in the back of my mind – the possibility that it could creep back on me at any time – and that, most days, is mortifying in and of itself.

I was very, very lucky indeed, and I still am. I was able to overcome. I found light. I found a way to turn my sadness into an almost obsessive mission to practice positivism and healthy emotional habits as often as possible – to fight and to not let it get too big. I constantly read messages of hope, and I spread my own to others. I have learned to catch myself when I start to feel the smallest inkling of that awfully familiar sting, and I fight. I force myself to get up and go out and connect, to get dressed and show up. I fight.

But here’s the thing. What did I do to deserve the ability to overcome? Nothing. Am I somehow better, smarter or more capable because I was able to escape my depression – and the suicidal thoughts that did cross my mind quite often circa 2009 – than those who did not find an out before it was too late? Of course not. So how can I judge? How can any of us judge? How can any of us truly know the kind of pain inside a person, and the reasons why they might have or might not have overcome it? Why should we call them cowards when they fought some of the strongest demons that can afflict a human being – depression and mental illness. Who are we to assume they are weak or selfish or unworthy? 

So here’s a thought. Why not promote openness and sharing instead? Why not extend your hand to someone you suspect might be struggling with this kind of battle? Why not choose to lead with kindness instead of with hate? Don’t you think that would help stop someone form committing suicide more so than shaming them for their struggle, and making them feel even more alone than the demons inside already do?

This is critical folks. We will never be able to walk anyone to the light, if we continue to lead with darkness. Let’s try a little harder today, please. Let’s try to respect the struggles of others so that they might respect our own. Let’s work together and not against each other. Let’s be a little bit more sensitive to the things we don’t understand. Let’s ask more questions and make fewer assumptions. Let’s do better. I know we can.

And to those suffering from depression or from similar battles, if you feel like no one in the world understands, I’m here to tell you that I do. I really, really do. Reach out to someone for help. Leave the shame at the door, and put your life and your well-being first. You CAN escape it. You CAN find light. You CAN find happiness and health. You CAN overcome. You CAN. I promise you, you CAN.

Love,

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Make it Count: How Being Nicer Makes a Huge Difference

Last week was rough. I just had a string of bad luck that ended in scratching the heck (excuse my French) out of my brand new, leased car’s bumper as well as that of a Mr. Joe’s, and fraud on my debit card (for like the fifth time this year! Get it together Bank of America!).

Anyways, already having had a stressful week where I swear it started to feel like the universe was trying to push me down to the ground, I got home from work on Thursday night excited to head to Starbucks and work on my motivational eBook series (writing makes me feel alive). I parked my car, and noticing it was a tight spot, decided to move it elsewhere so I wouldn’t get hit later on. I had no idea I was on top of car in front of me, and scraaaaaaaaaaaatch I went. Once re-parked, I got out and there it was – huge scratches all along the right side of my bumper. I guess this Florida girl is still having a little trouble with this parallel parking deal!

Now as you might recall from my post From STRESS to STRENGTH in 24 hours, this car is a stressor in and of itself because I had to lease it after my beloved 2006 Jetta went caput on me a few months ago. And now, I had defaced (OK, maybe defaced is a little exaggerated) the poor thing that I do not even own.  I was flustered and feeling defeated, and could not seem to spot the car I had hit, so I decided to just go to Starbucks to write and deal with it later.

When I returned home that night, I decided to peek around the street and see if I could more calmly point out the car. I remembered it was blue, and walked up and down the street until I thought I spotted it. I looked at the back, and there it was – a huge scratch on the back bumper of what also seemed to be a new car.

I was scared, but I went up to my apartment, dug out my little crate of random stationary cards and stickers (yes, I am that girl), and wrote this note, complete with sticker bouquet, and walked outside to place it on the car’s windshield.

Being Nicer Makes a Huge Difference

I imagined I’d get a very angry phone call, but I would want it done for me, so I did it anyway. I went to bed with a heavy mind, stressing about money more so than I do on any usual night (and that’s a lot). Two days passed, and there was no phone call. I thought maybe they had just let it go. Then yesterday I received a very nice voicemail from a Mr. Joe. He was incredibly appreciative of the card, thanked me for my honesty and asked that I please return his call to work it out.

When I called him back he was so understanding and said that card (because it wasn’t even just a piece of paper) was enough to make his day. I apologized again, and we decided on a plan of action.

So in light of hateful things like the recent outpouring of hate about an Indian-American Miss America, I urge you to be NICE, honest and collaborative. Because no matter what anyone says, I wholeheartedly believe being nicer makes a huge difference, and it really has done so in my life. If we could all just work to show each other a little more respect, love and kindness each day, imagine how much better off we could be. Take the time to connect with others. Put a little extra effort into your communication with folks. And don’t underestimate the power of a little stationary and sticker action – being just a little nicer and more creative about our interactions goes a long way my friends!

Sure I will have to spend money on fixing this gentleman’s car and that will undoubtedly stress me out, but I can sleep at night knowing I did the right thing, and we will get it done in a positive manner instead of through arguments and blame. Look at that. Just by being nicer, I was able to minimize his stress and my own.

Also, I realize I am lucky to even have a new car or a bank account to stress about. That is also something to keep in mind. When you’re having a bad time, take a minute to really put your problems in perspective. It really helps me simmer down, and I believe it can do the same for you.

And as I always like to say, let’s work together, not against each other. Just a little food for Monday thought.

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Mean People Suck: Don’t Let ‘Em Break You

Mean People SuckFor the last few days, I’ve been working on a blog post on a completely different topic, but that’s the thing about sharing motivational morsels; it always works best to attack the issues of the day. That’s why I’d like to have a quick chat (albeit a one-way one until someone chooses to comment), on the importance of working together and not against each other, and not allowing MEAN to break you. Quite simply, mean people suck, and I just won’t have it!

I see it all the time in the ol’ day-to-day action. People are so quick to point fingers and find someone to blame when a situation gets sticky, but I always urge myself to focus on results and solutions. I also stress the importance of communicating positively and fairly, regardless of how tough the cookie you have to serve might be. Regardless of the situation, always try to work together towards results, rather than against each other towards conflict. Mean people suck! Don’t be one.

Now I know it’s hard to hold on to your cool sometimes when people fling attitudes and snotty, little pointy fingers at you, but it is definitely something you should always woosah yourself through. Letting negativity or conflict bring you down to its level, what I’m referring to as the MEAN, only worsens the situation and spreads more negativity. Standing your NICE ground, on the other hand, usually helps to soften the situation, and well, quite honestly it gives folks, even the mean ones, a little more hope in humanity. And we could all use a little bit more of that, I think. Focus my friends. Mean people suck. Always choose to be nice instead!

And never let the MEAN break you, make you bitter, or dull your shine – mean people suck, but you don’t have to. At the end of the day, when I’ve walked away and calmed down from my own verge of breaking my NICE, I feel like I always win, have better relationships, garner more respect from others, and just feel healthier. Giving into the MEAN might temporarily feel like a victory, but in the end it is that MEAN that would have won once you gave into it and it’s evil little ways. Mean people suck, but I simply won’t let them change me.

So stay cool, be nice, spread kindness, let the mean-sicles be mean, and keep your heart and spirit healthy with all the NICE you can possibly muster. Because like my pal Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” and, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

One more time just for good measure, shall we? Mean people suck!

Happy Tuesday!

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Kindness Counts: 9 Tips for a Kinder Existence

Kindness Counts

Every day, I pay attention. In fact, I probably pay more attention to every minute detail of my surroundings and social interactions than my brain and heart can really handle sometimes.  One thing that I catch myself paying extra, special, focused attention to is people’s attitudes. I notice when people are kind, even if just in tiny, little, minuscule ways, and it always, always, without fail, gives me a little boost, a little pep in my step, and a great big smile.

Then there are the times when I pick up on a more negative energy; attitudes that feel more like quick, sharp bee stings.  Sometimes it’s really subtle – a slightly irritated or condescending tone of voice, a less than pleasant look, or an off-putting gesture. I imagine people often don’t even realize they are being a little on the jerky side, or how their energy might affect others around them. But me? I notice. That’s just Sonia. I’m sensitive to people’s energy, and I pick up on that stuff. I think a lot of us do.

Enter the topic of kindness which I haven’t visited in a bit. I believe with everything I have that there is always a positive way to have a conversation, even when it involves a tough or controversial topic. I believe there is always a small gesture you can make to help someone feel more comfortable, always a positive way to tackle a situation, always a small way to be kind, and rarely a thoroughly good reason to be a dick. Yes, I said it.

In that vein, here are nine small, but meaningful ways to live a kinder existence.

Kindness Counts Tip #1: SMILE!

Whether it’s at a homeless person on the corner, your neighbor, the cashier at your grocery store, a fussy child, your co-worker, just SMILE! It’s free, it’s easy, and trust me, it makes a sizable difference. Most of us just want to be acknowledged, and there is no better way to acknowledge someone and their humanity, than through a great, big CHEESE.

Kindness Counts Tip #2: Show appreciation.

Take time to thank those who contribute to your life (made you laugh, did you a favor, offered advice), whether that’s  a mentor, a friend, a nurse, the bar tender at your favorite spot, an old professor, a family member, anyone. Maybe it’s just an actual “thank you” and a smile, maybe it’s a thank-you note, or a small treat. It might take you five minutes of energy, but it will give someone else a whole day’s worth of warmth.

Kindness Counts Tip #3: Respect others.

We are all different – complete with our quirks, our bad days, and our likes and dislikes. But we all contribute in our own very special way, and I believe we should respect what everyone has to offer. Never make people feel they are less than you. Never talk down to people. Never ignore them. Try to find a happy medium between what you bring to the table and what they bring, knowing neither is better than the other, just different, and equally as valuable.

Kindness Counts Tip #4: Listen.

People want to be heard. Hell, people NEED to be heard. Even if you don’t agree, just listen. Give people a turn, and then talk. Give others the opportunity to let go of what weighs on their hearts and minds. Then when they have what they need, they’ll turn and listen to you. Don’t shun people out because what they are saying is not what you want to hear. Just listen.

Kindness Counts Tip #5: Apologize.

Hey, screw up much? Of course you do. We all do, and that’s A OK! Practice self-awareness. Realize when you’ve made a bad choice, offended someone, hurt some feelings, and apologize. People are pretty easy, folks. They just want to have their feelings validated. They don’t actually want to hold on to grudges. They just want to hear you’re sorry. Screw up, own up to it, apologize, and move on. Screw up, hold on to that pride like a kid to a chocolate bar, make the situation worse, and dwell. Easy choice, I’d say.

Kindness Counts Tip #6: Be honest.

Clearly, there is a place and a time for brutal honesty, and you can’t always go around telling everyone exactly how you feel. Plus, being honest doesn’t equate to being a jerk. Instead, just be as honest as you can as often as possible. Especially in situations where people are reaching out to you, asking you straight out how you feel, give them the answer they deserve, the honest one. Don’t beat around that old tired bush, just come out with it. Don’t lead folks on, or tell them what you think they want to hear. That ends up hurting a lot more in the long run, every time. And hey, some people might not like what you have to say, but in the end, they will always find a way to respect it.

Kindness Counts Tip #7: Build spirits up. Don’t tear them down.

Give compliments where compliments are due. Encourage people. Support them. Help them wherever and however you can. Again, SMILE! Don’t interrogate. Don’t search for flaws. Search for good qualities. See the good in people. Forgive. Give chances. Stay positive. Don’t hurl insults at every turn, even when they are hurled violently at you.

Kindness Counts Tip #8: Don’t let ‘em harden you.

OK. So you’re throwing out all the kindness you can muster, and you are still getting nasty attitudes, rude comments, and harsh dismissals. So what? If we give into that, we only perpetuate the ugly little cycle. Be nice even when others are not. Be the positive light in Negative Alley. Don’t let ‘em harden you. The right people will appreciate it, and the harder ones? Well, sooner or later, if you just keep pushin’ through kindness, you’ll strike a chord, and soften them right up! Negative or angry people are not bad people. They just need your kindness the most.

Kindness Counts Tip #9: Be humble.

No matter what you achieve in life, what faraway lands you might travel to, how great your possessions and accolades might be, stay humble. Always remember the path you took to get there. Remember the bad days when the good days come. Remember those who helped you along the way. Never start to think you’re better than anyone. Know that things can always change. Appreciate, love and share kindness. Don’t get cocky, and don’t you ever dare think you have nothing left to learn.

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Even the Hopeless Have Hope

Hope

This weekend was a true lesson in hope for me, and I want to share it with you. After all, anything that can strike a little hope in your heart seems especially fitting this week after the nauseating events that took place at the Boston Marathon yesterday afternoon.  So here it goes.

On Saturday, I spent a few hours (ended up feeling more like five minutes) volunteering with a church program called Youth Lounge. Please note that whether you believe in church or religion is not the point here at all, so regardless of your beliefs, I urge you to read on. Anyhoo, I had been searching for a volunteer opportunity for a while now, and this really seemed like the perfect fit. I felt that my positive energy and optimistic attitude could help uplift these young people and inspire a little hope in them. I never thought they would do the same and more for me.

Youth Lounge essentially provides a safe space for homeless and at-risk youth in Chicago’s Lakeview community. A majority of these teenagers and young adults identify as LGBTQ, 90 percent of them are people of color and a little over half of them are homeless. Youth Lounge is put on by Broadway United Methodist Church volunteers twice a month on the second and fourth Saturdays, and provides a home cooked meal, activities and a loving environment for these struggling youth.

This particular Saturday was my first time volunteering with the group, and as a hyper emotional person, I was afraid. I was afraid to unintentionally make it about me. I was afraid to make these kids feel as though I felt sorry for them or looked down on them in any way. And as they started walking in the door, many of them with luggage and bags in tote, the tears began to well up in my eyes. I took deep breathes, and kept telling myself, you have to smile, this is not about you, they need your HAPPY.

Little by little, I completely forgot about my tears, and began to be inspired by them. Here they were, so young, many with no place to live, no safe environment to trust, and yet they were so luminous. Many of them knew each other and ran to one another in warm embraces. Many also made jokes and were happy to see the volunteers they already knew. Suddenly, they were not victims in my eyes. They were just kids and despite their situations, they seemed joyful and full of life. They seemed to be oozing with HOPE.

The afternoon began with several musical performances after which the kids all sat down to brightly decorated tables for a warm, home cooked meal prepared by some of the volunteers. They all gathered with their friends, chatted and laughed as the volunteers came by to take their orders and serve them. Some kids seemed very comfortable being served and others seemed almost shocked at the niceness and attention being offered to them. One particular youth could hardly look me in the eyes as I asked him what he wanted to drink and thanked me quietly almost five times.

Dinner time went by so quickly. I forgot about all of my feelings, and suddenly I just felt so focused on giving them what they needed. Soon it was time for the beauty parlor activity. Before the youth had arrived, I had helped set up a little nail spa in the back of the room. Their names were all put in a hat, and several were chosen to receive a manicure. Although my shift was over, I decided to stay a little longer and help do nails. I love getting my nails done, and did it on my own for many years when I couldn’t afford to get them done. I still get a great sense of progress and relaxation when I go have them done, and I couldn’t wait to offer the youth a little pampering and sense of being special.

I had two gentlemen “clients,” and they were so excited to be pampered. They both chose to have their nails polished in addition to the manicure, and I was happy to help them express themselves. One of them told me all about his foster mom as I did his nails, and the other told me about his struggle with drug abuse and having to fight just to be himself in public. He had been to rehab and told me all about how he’s doing much better now.  I was so glad to hear it. They both laughed and joked with me, opened up to me, and taught me more about hope and resilience than I had ever expected them to.  They had fighter spirits, and despite everything they had been through, they seemed to appreciate life and find ways to smile.

I learned so much from these kids in just a few hours. I learned that you can have nearly nothing and still have a huge smile on your face. I learned that there is always something to look forward to in life if you choose to see it that way. I was also reminded that even though I have my own childhood and adolescent noise, I am so, so lucky. I always had a roof over my head and food to eat, and my parents, despite their many imperfections, never abandoned or disowned me. I was reminded that there is hope all around me, all around us, even from unexpected sources. And most importantly, I was reminded that if those who we would expect to be hopeless can find a way to have hope in their lives and in their hearts, those of us who have been more fortunate can certainly find a way to be more hopeful and optimistic each day.

My thoughts, prayers, hope and heart go out to these beautiful young people, to all those affected by the events in Boston, and to all of you out there searching for a better day. I urge you, as I always do, to pay attention. Hope is all around us, and ready to help us make it through just about anything. At least that’s my hope. 

Sonia, Word Share Junkie

Championing the Lost Art of Kindness

I’ve always been a huge believer in and champion of KINDNESS. I wholeheartedly believe you can get so much more done when you are kind to people, and when you consider the humanity in any situation, whether it’s business, personal or fun.  Negativity and a mean spirit, on the other hand, seems to me like the easiest and fastest way to kill productivity, motivation, creativity, imagination, and slowly but surely, your soul.

When I observe people being negative towards each other in order to make a point, or accomplish a goal, and trying to get results through fear and intimidation, it quite literally sickens me. We all have our moments, but if we just took the initiative to be kind whenever possible, and leave negativity as an absolute last resort, we’d be much further along.

Although my life hasn’t been easy, well whose has really, I know that I have opened many doors for myself and maintained those doors open, through kindness. I pride myself on being a person people know they can work with fruitfully; talk to about anything without fear of negative or nasty feedback, and who always remains flexible. I’ve also always respected and cherished people who function in the same fashion. Any other way just doesn’t make sense to me. It never has, and it never will.

For me, I know exactly where this need for nice comes from, too. It comes from growing up in an environment of emotional abuse, of managing expectations through fear and of rampant disrespect. It was an environment of little positive results, and it is the reason I strive to be kind towards anyone who will cooperate. It is the reason I would be utterly ashamed to have anyone think of me as anything less than pleasant. Plus, it just makes it easier to get things accomplished, feel good about who I am, and often feel those good vibrations – yes, I went there.

When you are kind, people extend themselves out to you. People support you, and even begin to champion kindness themselves, causing a rippling effect on others. People are sometimes shocked by it, and I hear a lot of, “Wow, you’re so nice,” but they always welcome it. It is sad to think people will often find it strange when you are kind. It’s because we need more of it.

And, all those times in my life I’ve heard I should stop being so nice, because people will take advantage of me, and trust me, they have plenty of times, I get frustrated with myself for a second. But then I come to and I realize that I refuse to allow others to convince me into being something that I do no respect, something I never want to be. So what if being too nice gets me hurt? At the end of the day, I can look in a mirror, and like and respect myself. I can be proud that I will never make someone feel the rejection and pain I was made to feel growing up.

It really isn’t that hard folks. There are so many opportunities to be kind in small, but meaningful ways throughout your day. Smile at a stranger, let someone pass you in traffic, give a dollar to someone on the street who needs it more than you do (it can happen to anyone), give a compliment, offer to help when no one has asked you to.

The fact is that negativity breeds negativity and hatred. Life is already so incredibly complex. Why make it even more difficult with unnecessary cruelty? As I always say, be nice, it’s good for the soul. 🙂

So how will you take steps to practice and protect the lost art of kindness this week? I challenge you to find just one way to champion kind by Friday, and share it with me. I have every confidence that you can!

And if you need a little inspiration for kind, check these out:  

Sonia, Word Share Junkie