Kindness can happen anywhere, any time. For instance: on an interstate highway, 300 miles from home.
We were well into our family’s annual Thanksgiving road trip to North Carolina a couple of weeks ago when my iPhone buzzed.
It was a text message from our next-door neighbor.
“The four of you in NC right?”
I texted back: “On our way. In SC now.”
What he wrote next froze me.
“Ok. Garage open. Didn’t notice last night.”
I told my wife, who was driving. She went pale.
The night before, while the boys and I waited for my wife to get home from work, I had backed the car into the driveway to pack the trunk. In my haste to get on the road, I pulled away and forgot to push the button on the garage remote.
Stupid, right? Possibly catastrophic.
In a bit of a cold-sweat panic, I called my neighbor and asked him to use the garage remote in our other car to close the door for us.
I could not thank him enough for the kindness of not only noticing our garage door was open, but caring enough to check with us about it. Imagine if we had pulled into our driveway four days later and seen that garage door gaping.
It would have been bad, very bad, if not for the kindness of our neighbor.
The world sometimes feels broken. The current collective mood is haunted by a sense of foreboding, a foundation of fear.
It should not be this way. If human kindness ruled the day, it would not be this way.
Kindness cuts the fog the fear.
What is kindness?
I like the Merriam-Webster definition for kids:
“The quality or state of being gentle and considerate; a kind deed.”
Kindness is more than that, though. It can be a way of life.
Every morning before school, I remind my kids:
“Be good. Be nice. Be you. Have fun. And be kind.”
Be kind. This is distinct from performing an act of kindness. To be kind, one must keep kindness in his or her heart. It must be the default setting for interpersonal relationships, including the relationship with oneself.
We love the concept of kindness. It’s a guiding principal in our family. But it’s not just an altruistic approach to life. Kind acts benefit your health.
Which is great, because that means we’ve been feeling pretty healthy around D4C HQ lately.
Thanks to the wonderful people at KIND Snacks and Life of Dad, we’re part of the #kindawesome program. We’re spotting kindness as it happens and, with the help of our #kindawesome partners, distributing small gifts of recognition to the perpetrators.
For the past few weeks, we’ve recognized acts of kindness by members of our personal communities by sharing KIND snacks. It’s a small gesture, sure, but we’re firm believers in the power of thank you.
One way we’ve helped KIND in its ongoing mission to spread kindness is to distribute #kindawesome cards when we’ve spotted someone out and about performing kind acts. We also sent people we admire a quick note telling them they were eligible for a free KIND snack pack – just because we think they’re incredible.
The first one I gave away was to my mother, who is a champion of kindness when it comes to many things. Specifically, I was greatly moved (as always) when I saw her interact over the Thanksgiving holiday with my grandmother, her mother, who is in poor health and resides in an assisted living facility. The care of a child for an aging parent – that’s pure kindness.
The second one I gave away was to the neighbor who spotted out open garage door while we were away and made sure it was closed for us. In fact, I gave him two.
We’ve recognized other friends, family members, neighbors, co-workers and strangers for kindnesses small and big, and we’re not done. Through the generosity of KIND Snacks, we still have a few left to give away. So, let us know if you spot someone performing an act of kindness – no matter how small – and we’ll give them a little pat on the back with a #kindawesome pack of KIND Snacks.
You can get in on it, too, by checking out the program here: How Kind of You.
Meanwhile, join us Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m. ET for the #kindawesome Twitter chat with Life of Dad, KIND Snacks, and a whole lot of rad people of the Internet, many of whom are friends of D4C. We’ll chat about kindness and how to spot it, and how to teach it to our kids. See you then!
Disclosure: Dads 4 Change has partnered with Life of Dad and KIND Snacks to promote the very worthy #kindawesome program. All compensation received goes toward the D4C Fund 4 Change, which is used to support causes and organizations dedicated to positive change in the world.