"Try to make one person happy every day and then in ten years you may have made three thousand, six hundred and fifty persons happy, or brightened a small town by your contribution to the fund of general enjoyment" Sydney Smith
One of the principles that I am following this year is that I want to be a kinder person overall. Last year I spent a great deal of time thinking about complaining, the nature of it, why we do it, and what it does to us individually, as families and to society as a whole. I tried (and am still trying) very hard to stop complaining entirely. Venting is an empty fruitless waste of energy that only serves as a slow poison to yourself and others, and random griping is the same as throwing trash out onto the ground for any and everyone to share. I don't actually believe that negativity ever accomplished anything. I know that for me, that realization and putting those concepts into practice has changed my attitude and my general outlook a great deal.
This year, I am taking it one step further. I not only want to not be a negative influence in the world, but I want to generate kindness, encouragement and love. It's not so much that I think I am mean, spiteful or disparaging in general, but I do often go about on auto-pilot. As long as everything is flowing smoothly, at no inconvenience to me then all is well, but let something become more complicated, throw off my self-imposed schedule, or in some way make me have to go out of my way, and I get a little...let's call it, tense. This isn't something I am proud of, but it is something about me that is true. I think I was made for more than this.
I've blogged before about doing small things to change the world in big ways, but I think I have overlooked the power I have to simply change the world for the better with patience, with an encouraging word, with understanding, with compassion...with kindness. It costs me nothing, yet it can affect the atmosphere of an entire room. I've witnessed it in dealing with my children, and I have experienced for myself how deeply a few encouraging words or an unselfish small gesture can change the entire course of my day. I want to be that person to others. It will mean often not reacting with my original knee-jerk response, bu make a concerted effort to go the extra step, to muster the smile instead of giving the martyr sigh (you know which one I mean), to speak encouragingly to my own children rather than snap in aggravation. It means retraining behaviors that have been growing in me for decades. It seems a simple task on the surface, but I know me. I know the depth of my selfishness, the level of importance I attach to my own agenda and how very, very stingily I guard my most precious resource, my time.
Let's face it, there's probably a million other aspirations I could pursue that would be more glamorous, more exciting or more impressive, but none of them are going to make my heart look more like that of my Savior than this one. That makes it a principle worthy of lifestyle alignment.