The past 5 months have seen us challenging all semblance of normalcy by giving up nearly every familiar moment in our everyday lives: leisurely outdoor strolls, in-person collaboration, even hugging our loved ones.
Yet these challenges are minor compared to the struggles of those who aren’t as privileged, to the point that some people have gone viral simply by rising to the occasion.
While I love that some folks are doing what they can for others, I find it a little sad that we’ve reached a point where we celebrate individuals for doing what’s right — it just means it happens so rarely. And kindness should be the norm.
People constantly joke about how later generations are too soft or sensitive, inventing various reasons to justify not helping others. This relative indifference isn’t new: despite the words “love thy neighbor” being a big part of many people’s childhoods, we’re actually used to kindness not being the knee-jerk response.
“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
Many of us grew up with and were shaped by what’s commonly called “tough love”. Kindness and warmth was earned instead of freely given; those who didn’t receive it supposedly didn’t try hard enough, or weren’t blessed enough.
We now know better, of course. But change doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time to unlearn negative responses and toxic behaviors.
One thing we can commit to doing is to mindfully and proactively choose better ways to engage others: listen before speaking, practice kindness over self-preservation, and choose to do things that benefit more than ourselves.
When we choose to be better, to be kind, to be mindful, we present the next generation with a blueprint for how to one day continue where we leave off — a legacy, if you will, of choosing warmth and kindness first.
Have you been practicing the ability to choose better for yourself and for others? I’d love to hear your kindness stories — perhaps I can learn from you, too!
Theresa Carbonel-Buenaflor Founder, Ellana Mineral Cosmetics