Recently, I was talking with some girlfriends and one of them said, “I’ve been trying so hard to be more kind, but damn, it’s hard to do.”
I totally understand my friend’s frustration. I get that it’s much easier to be negative, or lash out at someone, or decide that being kind is useless. But just like getting in shape, or changing a bad habit, cultivating kindness in our hearts and incorporating it into our daily practice takes work.
For example, when someone annoys you at home, in traffic, or at the office, the kind way to react often begins with looking at the situation from their perspective. What is going on in their life that is causing them to act so erratically? Again, it’s not easy to stop and think from that perspective in the moment, but rather than lashing back, which makes no one feel better, try being silent. Listen. Breathe. Wave them through the line of traffic.
Just like we see and feel negative energy build over time, we can also feel kindness in the form of small acts— a compliment, a listening ear, not honking at the person in front of you to go faster. Those small acts build collectively over time, and can hopefully begin to negate the negatives we see around us.
My goal is to help us redefine the word kindness and accept the idea that kindness can be your strength, not your weakness. I continue to have opportunities to share that message with others. Sharing my personal struggles and setbacks on stage has allowed me to see more clearly that none of us are perfect, and that’s okay. Though we strive to be good people, sometimes we stumble in life. Life throws us curveballs. We lose our way. But keeping kindness close to our hearts and never giving up on it allows us to find our way back with a bit more ease.
I was reminded of this point at an event last month that focused on children in LA County’s foster care system. I accepted an award on behalf of KTLA from Raise A Child, a non-profit that connects foster children and prospective parents. Richard Valenza started this organization, and they come on our KTLA 3 p.m. newscast monthly to share success stories.
I often tell the story of a young foster preteen who was on our show earlier this year. He was polite, had a big smile and was like any preteen, a little shy and quiet on set. But as the segment evolved, this young boy told me he would like to share something on air. We said okay. He then proceeded to say he was looking for a good home. He promised he would be a good boy. He said he would behave. To watch this young boy essentially pleading for love broke my heart. It reminded me that we are all essentially pleading for love. It’s really all we want. So with that said, let’s be more loving and kind to one another. You know what that means. Now go and do it.
P.S. The good news: the young boy is now in the process of getting into a foster home. Someone saw him on KTLA and responded.