The Kindness Clause

By Barbara Gruener

“Today I’m thinking about something I heard 13 years ago when I attended a CHARACTER COUNTS! Character Development Seminar in Houston and was introduced to the Six Pillar framework. It went something like this:

Think about what you want people to say at your funeral, then live life backward.

It resonated with me because it captured the essence of what we used to ask ourselves in my family. It also reminded me of a challenge we gave our own children as we taught them that there is very little in life that is as important as being kind:”

Would we want to be treated tomorrow the way we’ve treated people today?

Kindness Is the Real Global Warming

“My intern Anna and I worked on this visual display together. After brainstorming titles that we could use with a winter theme — like “It’s Cool to Be Kind All Around the Globe” and “Kindness Makes the World Go Round — we settled on this global warming phrase. I put up the border and she did all of the artwork (heartwork is more like it). The lettering, the snow globe, the cultural integration depicting people from around the world — she drew and colored all of that. From her mind’s eye. Free hand. A gift of time and talent. At no charge. A kindness shown, many hearts warmed.

The year-end season of festivities — Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas — and the beginning of a new year are perfect for reflecting on all that is decent, good and kind. “Random acts of kindness” abound for good reason. To express gratitude. To celebrate. To keep traditions alive. To gather as a family. To reunite with friends. To complete another year.”

We find more opportunities to focus on serving others as we honor the memory of Nelson Mandela and pause to pray for peace at the one-year mark of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Last year, shortly after that tragedy, I decorated a tree with kind things we could do as we looked for ways to recover, heal and restore hope.

Gruener-treeWhen we make character a verb, living our values with purpose and intentionally treating one another with kindness and compassion, then we’re more likely to find peace on earth. Not just around the holidays, but all year long. Because kindness knows no calendar.

A Few Kindness-Conspiracy Suggestions

*Write a thank-you note to your mail carrier or your child’s teacher.
*Sing or play an instrument at a retirement facility, nursing home or hospital.
*Send a care package to a soldier who won’t be home for the holidays.
*Give an inspirational song to someone special through iTunes or Amazon.
*Surprise someone far away with a Skype chat.
*Fill the candy bucket at your workplace.
*Share a secret family recipe. Or make a batch and share.
*Use a special talent (like artwork!) to help someone.
*Offer someone a ride to a doctor’s appointment or to the airport.

Want more? Have a look at the Collaborative Kindness and Caring Classrooms Pinterest pages.

Here’s to a new year that’s one-of-a-KIND!

The very kind Barbara Gruener is a counselor and character coach at Westwood-Bales Elementary School in Friendswood, Texas. Check out her blog, The Corner on Character.