With Thanksgiving Day just a few weeks away, this is the time of year where we hopefully take time out to give a little thoughtful consideration for all the things we’re thankful for and express our gratitude to those who have impacted our lives in influential ways!
One of my favorite quotes about “GRATITUDE” sits all year-long on a shelf in my living room to remind me of a couple of characteristics I want to develop better in my life!
Despite the Thanksgiving season, however, another word has occupied my mind and nudged my conscience more dominantly lately. Not too long ago, a dear friend sent me a copy of a graduation address given by George Saunders, a New York Times best-selling short story author, to students at Syracuse University in upstate New York this past year. Although I had seen excerpts of this speech quoted in related articles, I hadn’t read it in its entirety. Upon doing so, the word “kindness” has taken on a deeper meaning for me and I’ve felt compelled to incorporate it more genuinely in my life, especially in terms of how I associate with others! I would also like to enlist your support in joining forces with me to help promote a more concerted effort of giving more “thoughtful kindness” –one act at a time!
Mr. Saunders, in his advice to the graduating students, related a few personal stories, then summarized that ultimately he had few regrets in life, other than his failures of kindness. He then posed an interesting question by saying:
“Who in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
“Those who were kindest to you, I bet.”
“It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.”
“Now the million-dollar question: What’s our problem? Why aren’t we kinder?”
“Because kindness, it turns out, is hard!”
(Read George Saunder’s full speech here.)
We all hear stories about ‘pay it forward’ or ‘random acts of kindness’–I love them and have even dedicated a board on my Pinterest page to them, and I also have a file in my desk drawer where I’ve collected these heart warming types of experiences about others! It seems like almost on a daily basis, you hear of a newsworthy story about someone leaving a large tip for a struggling waitress or waiter and you can’t help but be impressed by this kind of generosity to complete strangers!
Now here’s my thought…just think what we might accomplish if we looked around and better observed those we associate with–family members, neighbors, work colleges etc. and dedicated ourselves to giving a little more thoughtful consideration to how we can truly be more kind to these people, among all the others we rub shoulders with, so to speak, on any given day. It’s one thing to write a check and leave extra money for someone we perceive as being able to benefit greatly by this act of good will, but to actually take a little time out of our busy, busy schedules to really give some sincere thought as to how we might impact another’s life, even anonymously, might be the greater challenge to take on, but perhaps just as rewarding, if not more so, for all parties involved!
Hearing about all the devastation that’s taken place this week in the Philippians, it’s easy to feel pretty helpless and like we can’t possibly make a difference, but maybe with small, kind gestures we can, as we reach out to those around us and in more meaningful ways try to lift them up. Certainly opportunities may arise where we’re given the chance to help other people on a larger scale, but in the meantime, I think it’s so important as go about our day-to-day lives that we try and offer simple acts of thoughtful kindness!
I love the last part of George Saunder’s graduation speech where he states:
“One thing in our favor: some of this ‘becoming kinder’ happens naturally with age…we somehow come to see how useless it is to be selfish…so my heartfelt wish for you as you get older, is that you will gradually be replaced by LOVE.”
(I love it when I hear about any upside to getting older!)
My hope is that we will all consider…
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…in our lives and that you’ll be inspired to share your stories and observations with me, either here in the comments or by writing me at my contact email, so that today and on other “Thoughtful Kindness” days in the future, I can spotlight you by highlighting your stories here!
If you feel so inclined, I would especially love for you to share this download on your blog, Facebook page, or any other social media, (or you can just print off a copy to have as a reminder on your fridge or bulletin board) then at this special Thanksgiving time, we can collectively enlarge our capacity to be more grateful by showing our ability to love and truly share in thoughtful kindness!
I’m grateful that my parents, as well as wonderful friends and family members have been such tremendous examples to me of how to be kinder and love more fully!
Best Wishes for a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!