“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”-Wayne Dyer
For anyone who read the brilliant novel Wonder by R.J. Palacio, this precept is very familiar. It is one of my very favorite (of many) that Auggie’s teacher, Mr. Browne, shared with his students. Choosing kindness is just that, a choice, but it is also a principal to live by. After enough practice it becomes a habit, and habits become so ingrained that we sometimes don’t even notice.
But we do not need to wait for a situation to arise in which we are given the choice between being right or kind, we can live our life in search of opportunities to “Find Kind”. We can look for instances in which our acts of kindness would lift another person, benefit our community, or build the type of world in which we want to live.
To Find Kind, we just need to have empathy and an awareness of the struggles and challenges that those around us face.
I saw an amazing example of this precept this week. Some of us teachers were posting on Facebook about our frustration that an amazing education conference/retreat was taking place right here in our state (Maine) this summer and that the cost made it too prohibitive for any of us to attend. We were vexed by the notion of being ‘so close and yet so far’. Someone noticed that conversation and took it as an opportunity to FIND KIND!
Cynthia Lord, Maine author of Rules, Touch Blue, Half a Chance, and the Hot Rod Hamster series empathized with the frustration expressed, but moved beyond empathy to action. She responded in her own Facebook post that in part read,
“I was sorry to read that some of my teacher friends would love to go to this event right in our own backyard, but it’s out of reach.
Another thing that I know about Maine is that people help each other. As a writer, I’ve been very fortunate this year. I just sold two more early readers and I figure what better way to celebrate that than to celebrate my state’s teachers who actually teach reading and writing.
This year, my family can afford this. So my husband and I want to send one of you to this amazing conference.”
From her own hard-earned money, Cynthia chose a teacher at random (from those who responded to her post) and paid for the registration and lodging for this teacher. All Cynthia asked was that this teacher share what she learned with the other teachers who also wanted to go. Cynthia asked her to meet either online, at a coffee shop, or in some other way to spread some of her new knowledge and learning. In that way, even more teachers and students would benefit from this act of kindness.
Needless to say, all of us were overwhelmed with Cynthia’s generosity and altruism. She went out of her way to find a way to show kindness to a group of teachers. Her husband, equally chose to be kind, to people he had never met. They weren’t asked for a donation or help…they created an opportunity for kindness. She did something as unexpected as it was generous to FIND KIND. Even those who weren’t ‘picked’ to attend the conference were changed by this act. I felt ‘lifted’ by knowing that I live in a state with such caring and compassionate people. The comments by others displayed genuine happiness for the teacher who was selected and not jealousy or resentment at missing out. I felt more hopeful and optimistic about people and life.
I didn’t write this post to encourage people to ask authors or celebrities or others to help them out. On the contrary, I wrote it to encourage people to find opportunities to offer kindness where it isn’t being solicited. To FIND KIND, you just need to notice, to observe, to listen, to care. To FIND KIND doesn’t require money either. Sure, money can help in a lot of ways, but so can a kind note, a home cooked meal, a ride to an appointment, a piece of chocolate! Random acts of kindness create ripples in our world. Many ripples can combine to create a wave. Look around you, who do you know that could use a little ripple? Who do you know that is good at creating ripples? Your noticing and responding will help create a wave.
What will you do to contribute to a wave of kindness in your world?
How will you, FIND KIND?
What’s on my Book Radar?
Last month the Maine Student Book Award winners were chosen by students all across Maine. Here are the top 10 and the number of votes they received.
1. Wonder 713
2. Cardboard 433
3. The One and Only Ivan 365
4. One for the Murphys 308
5. The False Prince 233
6. Earthling! 156
7. The Ghost of Graylock 139
8. Ungifted 138
9. Capture the Flag 125
10. Island of Thieves 114
Students had to have read at least 3 of the nominated books in order to vote. I was able to read 20 of the 40 titles. There were 4 of the top 10 I missed, but rather than reveal them, I will quietly put them on my book radar and get them read by summer’s end. I’m happy to say I have a good start on next year’s nominees!!