Kindness. Everyone says it, but not everyone practices it. I have been struggling a lot with trying my best to be kind at all turns. I'm sure you are thinking... why are you struggling with being kind? Well, there are so many instances where you just cannot help yourself or your emotions and have to choose the best way to handle situations. Many times, if you are frustrated enough, kindness is NOT the result. If you are running late, and the person in front of you in line is taking too long, if you are trying to sleep but your roommate needs to get up for class and keeps you awake, when someone does something that is just overall inconvenient - it is easy to get annoyed and not treat people with the same kindness and respect that you would otherwise. Learning to control impulsive thoughts and actions, ease up a little bit, and treat people fairly and nicely is really important. And I feel like a lot of people could use some help in this area.

My senior year of high school, I got involved in an extremely toxic friend group. Constantly feeling left out, witnessing people talk badly about the same person who was sitting at our lunch table just a few minutes ago, constantly finding the worst in people they do not even know, making jokes of things that are not okay to make jokes about, being turned against because I was an inconvenient asset to the group... just a few things that I experienced. The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of groups like this in high school, and a lot of people like this in life. It got to the point where I was not liking the person I was becoming because acting in such a way felt so normalized - so okay - and, let me tell you; it absolutely is not. After a ton of self-reflecting and reevaluating (in the midst of many tears and drama), I finally felt like I was back on the right foot.

Saying "thank you" anytime anyone does anything for you goes a very long way even if it is a task as simple as holding the door open for you. Showing your appreciation for people is important, and when you are only given one brief encounter to make a good impression on a stranger, gestures like these are important.

Reminding your friends of how much you appreciate them is essential in keeping and maintaining a healthy friendship. If they are going through a rough day, giving them a call or going out of your way to go see them and show them that you are there can mean a lot. The friends that were there for me through my worst points are the ones I truly believe I am going to keep forever. Even if nothing is going on, necessarily, being sure to never make someone feel bad about themselves and working through issues in the right way - NOT ignoring, making fun, excluding - proves you are loyal.

Complementing someone each day is another easy way to make your heart feel good and maybe even make someone else's day. Being talkative and friendly to a cashier and offering to help someone carry something are examples of small, but not-so-small, gestures.

Finally, being patient. I feel like this is the one I forget the most. If something does not go your way, take a breath and choose how you want to react. If someone treats you like a doormat and walks all over you, this may be a different story. Knowing how to stand up for yourself is important. But, if it was an honest mistake or something out of their control, remembering to keep it cool can save yourself from tension and negativity. This is something I have learned and still continue to each day.