“I always say that kindness is the greatest beauty that you can have.” –Actress, Andie MacDowell
I will be the first to tell anyone that I am not an expert when it comes to beauty and style. I’ve never really been up to date on the latest fashion or beauty trends. For instance, I have this old, comfy sweatshirt. I got it for Christmas in eighth grade (1993). It is fuzzy and cream-colored with a plaid pig right in the middle. It says “Ham Wear” in faded letters across the front.
And I still wear it…in public.
My husband teases me every time it’s cold enough to pull that sweatshirt out of the closet. He can’t believe that: 1. It still fits me, and 2. I would wear something that old and out of style. I mean, I got it in middle school, for cryin’ out loud! The cuffs are fraying, and it has thinned out considerably, but I will wear that sweatshirt until it disintegrates.
I have several little things around the house like that sweatshirt, favorite things of mine that I can’t seem to give up no matter how outdated they are. It’s just a part of my personality—who I am. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never see myself in Vogue.
One personality trait I have that will always be in style, however, is kindness. I haven’t started a revolution or anything, but I’d like to think I’m making a difference in my small corner of the world, and that counts for something, right?
Wear kindness and give kindness.
A couple of years ago, I had an idea. It was just after the first anniversary of my mom’s death, and I was looking for a way to begin repaying all the kindness and love people had shown to me during that time. I wanted to do something bigger than a simple thank you note, and I wanted it to reach further than those who helped me—a kindness wave, if you will.
I started by making a list of all the people for who I wanted to do something. The list grew and grew, and I realized I would have to do this in stages. I decided 10 was a good, round number to have in the groups, so I organized my list accordingly. I chose a group of people I wanted to honor first (close friends who were there in the trenches with me), and I made them “Friendship Grams.”
I purchased $10 Starbucks gift cards for each person along with a personalized note of gratitude. I even sent one to a woman whom I’ve never actually met in person, but whom I quickly bonded with during an Instagram challenge. It was a small gesture of kindness, but a gesture of kindness nonetheless.
The Friendship Grams were a huge hit, and I had several people ask me all about my process for doing them. The pebble was cast, and the ripple began to grow.
The next group of people I honored was teachers. I actually got my girls involved in this one and had them give me a list of some of their favorite teachers. We gave the teachers each a hand-written note with a $10 Subway card (because we all know how appetizing school lunches are). This group of honorees was my favorite, as my mom was a teacher.
I had my daughter’s Girl Scout troop send care packages to military men and women overseas. My girls and I have made treats for the local EMS, fire department, and police department. My family has donated items to our local food and hygiene pantry. We have helped people from our church and spread kindness all over our little town.
And kindness has come back to us tenfold.
Not only have we been the recipients of random acts, but we have witnessed others practicing kindness at school, sporting events, and even the gas station. We noticed that the more we practiced kindness, the more we noticed other people doing the same. It has become incredibly fulfilling knowing people are being reached far beyond our initial acts.
But we certainly don’t do things for the accolades or because we expect something in return. There is no agenda. My family and I practice kindness because it is the right thing to do and because it is enriching, rewarding, and makes us feel like we are serving a greater purpose. It is so satisfying knowing we are making a positive impact on someone’s life.
Kindness, in any form, is such a simple act, one that can be performed anytime, anywhere. It doesn’t take any special kind of degree or title; it doesn’t require a huge bank account or philanthropic deed; it isn’t always reciprocated, but it is always appreciated.
It is important to be kind to one another. Kindness leads to good in the world. The more kindness we have, the more good we also have (and we definitely need a lot more good right now). I encourage you to think of small ways kindness can be added to your daily life. What are some things you can do right now—today—that would leave the world a better place? And if not the world, just your little corner of it?
From something as simple as holding a door for a mom with her hands full to smiling and making eye contact at everyone you pass, kindness leaves a lasting impression unlike anything else. It will always be in style; there is always room for more. Unlike my Ham Wear sweatshirt. There’s really only room for one of those.
Don’t miss these popular articles:
Busyness: Is It Really Your Badge of Honor?
Ask Dr. Zoe – When Is a Friendship Toxic?
5 Truths About the Best Kind of Beauty
Married to the Badge: Not Your Typical Life
Anatomy of a Strong Woman
Why I Share My Story of Healing After Domestic Abuse
To the Mom Who Feels Guilty for Loving Her Work
You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: You Have a Sparkle, Here’s How to Find It (With Former Miss USA Kristen Dalton Wolfe) – 061!