It’s the first week of the new year. That means it’s resolution time again. In the past few days, I read and tweeted articles on making resolutions related to health, finance, and productivity, but I did not recall seeing any focused on kindness. Is that because kindness is overlooked as a resolution? More specifically, is it overlooked in my social network and in the online pages I follow?
I searched online for “kindness new year’s resolution” and found a Psychology Today article titled The #1 Life-Changing New Year’s Resolution by Harriet Lerner, PhD. According to Lerner:
“Be kind” is the most important New Year’s resolution that any of us can make. In almost every interaction we have, we can either diminish or enhance another person. The practice of kindness includes being kind and compassionate to yourself as well.
It’s interesting how this is such an important resolution, yet it’s not one that pops up often in my conversations with friends and family.
Although Lerner’s article easily convinced me that practicing kindness is the most significant resolution I can make, I ended the article feeling like I already am kind. In fact, it is the trait I prioritize most in building all types of relationships in my life.
Then I realized that I might be kind enough for most people’s standards, but that doesn’t mean I can’t create more space for kindness.
It reminded me of a recent event with my relatives.
Last week, I went on vacation to visit my cousin and her family. On the first day of my visit, I kept hearing about how my cousin’s preteen daughter was excited to meet up with her friends that upcoming weekend.
One by one, her daughter’s friends started canceling their plans to hang out with her. It got to the point where all five of them ended up not being able to go. She did not hear her last cancellation from a friend until the day they were supposed to see each other. She clearly was disappointed.
My cousin made it a point to tell her daughter not to do anything similar to other people.
“Let your yes be yes,” she told her.
I asked if her friends were normally flaky. My cousin said that last-minute cancellations were atypical with this group of friends. It comforted me to know that they didn’t generally act like this, but it also got me thinking of myself and my own friends.
My friends are some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet, but even the kindest ones are known to change or cancel plans in the eleventh hour. Heck, I’m guilty of that sometimes.
While emergencies do arise, most of the time these changes or cancellations happen because someone didn’t plan accordingly. No, being rude is never the intention, but there is a point where being fickle becomes unkind.
We all can create more space for kindness, but how can we make it happen?
I intend to follow Lerner’s advice to be kind, but that intention is more tangible to me if I link it to a concrete action. In my case, it is to be more considerate when making plans with others. If I break a commitment—especially at the last minute—there better be a significant reason.
How will you create more space for kindness? What action can you take or what habit can you form to integrate more kindness into your life?