Being kind changes you as a person, and changes the world for the better.

The summary of the talk we give our staff at the start of the busy season at the family business can be boiled down to “Just. Think. Of. Others.” Whether it’s giving back a tool you’ve borrowed, helping someone else do something that might otherwise be outside your job description, or even just saying good morning and smiling in an effort to brighten everyone’s day – the business runs better if everyone is thinking of everyone.

Two of said staff members had birthdays this week. One is the daughter of a man who worked for us decades ago. Talk about legacy. The other is a correspondent of mine who is delightedly reading my current WIP, doing some of the same distance learning that I had done to get through college quickly and inexpensively (and had told her about last summer), and a fellow-bullet-journal-enthusaist. My mother texted me when she found out the former had no presents to open, and I whipped together a few gifts I knew she’d like – plus a (very, very fast) watercolor painting of Edinburgh castle (where I have visited, but very near where she lived for several years).


Having had a little more time to prepare for the second birthday of the week (the latter mentioned), I was able to ask this birthday-girl what she wanted to have in /her/ painting. She was, as ever, amenable to nearly anything. I narrowed it down to a non-magical creature or flower.

But this painting… well…

It felt magical. Maybe it was the speed and confidence with which I turned out the castle that gave me the boldness and tenacity which sparked the idea of this one. Maybe I finally opened myself up to something other than an attempt at literalism in art.

Maybe it was the Daniel Smith watercolor made from crushed Amythist.

I rule nothing out.


But birthdays were not the only moments I have had this spring which remind me that kindness, above all, makes the day to day more enjoyable for everyone.

I doctored a girl who’d manage to stab her foot through her tennis shoe – very basic stuff, but I made sure she was okay as a person and as a recipient of my mad first-aid skills before she trotted off into the middle distance. I did another bit of doctoring when stabbed-foot-girl’s friend came in with a slashed finger, looking faint and really not okay with pain. She needed more soul-help, and I could give it to her, so I did. Someone asked me to guess his age and I refused to do so, prompting another person to say jovially, “Go ahead! Insult him!” I said, “No, no. I never guess age, there are only four outcomes: you guess older and they are either confused or insulted or you guess younger and they are either confused or insulted.” “But we laugh off insults!” the young man insisted. “I would rather kill with kindness,” was the sum of my rebuttal (which was longer and included a childhood story of my father’s which had deeply impacted me several years ago and was weirdly relevant to the entire conversation).

It’s checking in with an injured co-worker. Making someone a cup of something when they look down or feel poorly. Smiling and saying good morning when you’d rather put earbuds in and refuse to deal with problems that aren’t in your job description.

My point here, done with pretty pictures and odd anecdotes, is this: kindness, once formed into a habit, costs very little and pays very well.

I decided to be unabashedly kind this year, and it is really paying off. I’m not 100%, not by a long shot. I still have deeply introverted anti-socializing tendencies and an awful lot of sarcasm. But I can tell you that my life has only gotten happier, more wholesome, and less stressful with this change in behavior.

The world would do better with more kindness, more laughter, and more prayer. I try to be amusing to myself and others, I kneel before my God often, and… well… I’ve lost track of the number of people who’ve smiled back at me in the mornings, thanked me for a meal or a band-aid, and given me a hug for doing my usual thing. Because kindness shouldn’t be an act that gets paid forward or just on birthdays – it should be an everyday habit where everyone thinks of everyone.

Being kind changes you as a person, and changes the world for the better.


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