be kind

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness and I believe that it’s one of the most important things we can give in this life.
In a world consumed with social media, it’s become entirely too easy for people to hide behind their computers and criticize people anonymously.
And in a world with so many opinions and so much brokenness and hate, it’s become normal for people to even criticize straight to someone’s face in a cruel and evil manner.
Why is it that 9 out of 10 people can treat you with kindness, but one person treats you poorly and you listen to that one person?
Because we’re human and we’re critical of each other and ourselves.
I’ve had this thought on my mind and I can’t shake it:
Showing kindness to one another will in turn help us to show kindness to ourselves. And vice versa. 
Years ago, in the middle of the worst time in my life, I went to Starbucks on a particularly bad day. I was on the verge of a breakdown at any minute. I walked into Starbucks and ordered my drink and the lady behind the counter said, “You have the prettiest hair.” I felt the opposite of pretty in any way that day, but her comment brightened my day and gave me a little hope that everything was going to be okay. It’s been years since that happened, but that one moment that lasted five seconds is still so vivid in my mind because it impacted me in a way that lady will never even realize.
My heart was so weary that day, and honestly, I was just trying to make it through without breaking down in public. That sweet lady had no clue what was going on in my life, but her kindness gave me peace and hope and a little touch of joy that will stay with me forever.
Do I have bad days? Of course I do, but I think about that lady who told me I had the prettiest hair on a day that I needed to hear something positive so badly, and it makes me smile. And I give myself a break for being down with hope that tomorrow will be better. Her kindness affects how I react to myself on my bad days.
Recently I went to a concert and there was a lady cleaning the bathrooms while dozens of women walked around her grabbing paper towels, everyone rushing to get out of there so they could get to their seats. As I went to reach for a paper towel for myself, I simply stopped and said to the lady, “Thank you so much for working so hard and keeping the bathrooms clean for us.” Her face brightened a little and she smiled back at me and said, “You’re welcome! I hope you enjoy the concert.”
It literally only took a few seconds of my day, but I hope it impacted her life. And I hope that if she has a bad day she will look back and think, “That girl stopped everything she was doing to thank me. What I do is important.” And I hope she was reminded that there are good and nice people in this sometimes cruel world.
Was she having a bad day? I have absolutely no idea. But neither did that lady at Starbucks four years ago.
We must be kind to others, yes. But also, we must be kind to ourselves.
Giving yourself a break during a hard time and extending kindness even during your struggles will help you to have a better outlook on life. I truly believe this.
None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. We all have bad days. We all struggle through parts of this thing called life.
And that is okay. That is normal.
Don’t beat yourself up over a mistake, a failed attempt at something, or a missed opportunity.
I challenge you: make a point to spread kindness through every stage of life – your best days, your worst days and all the days in between. Not just to others, but also to yourself. And I bet it will change your life for the better.
Kindness. It always wins. It is contagious. It is free. It is life changing.