Kindness and appreciation
At her birthday party, I asked her what were the most important lessons she’s learned over her 95 years of life. Without pausing a moment she said—“ Be kind to everyone around you. Take no offense and if you do, be quick to forgive.” This is a simple, direct message from an unassuming woman who has lived through the greater part of the 20th century. They are words of wisdom.
Why is it so much easier to be kind to strangers than to friends and family?
We take each other for granted. Familiarity breeds—familiarity. We simply stop noting all of the small loving deeds and moments of everyday life. They become part of our social landscape, and they fade into the background, out of sight. Yet, if we stop and look around, we notice all of the small but important things that we do for each other. It’s the many little things that make our lives comfortable.
We forget to express our appreciation to each other. When was the last time that you told your partner how much you appreciated him making dinner, taking the garbage out, or putting away his tools? Do you remember when you told her how much you appreciated her folding the laundry, putting the kids to bed, or helping you find your lost reading glasses? So much of our everyday life, both in the way we think and how we act is habit driven. We don’t have the habit of expressing gratitude to our loved ones.
As parents, we are highly motivated to help our children develop good habits. In order to do this, I hear moms and dads continually expressing appreciation when their youngsters behave well. “Thank you for using your inside voice, thank you for being kind to your sister, thank you for putting your dish in the sink, thank you for hanging up your coat” they say all day. Yet, why do we forget to thank our spouses?
We forget to remember what is really important. Here we go again—everyday life is so compelling and demanding. We are all so “crazy busy” running here and there to get things done, take care of our buildings and grounds, ferry our kids to the next activity and meet the demands of our work, whatever it may be. Our heads are glued to our electronic devices, bent over, scrolling through email and text messages, surfing the internet, and waiting to be electronically reminded to do the next thing.
Put down your device. Stop what you are doing. Look around. Notice what’s around you. What you will see are the people who give your life meaning. Breathe. Take a moment to express your appreciation to them for the little (and big) things that they do everyday.
It’s all about kindness, love, and appreciation. That’s what’s important.