You hear it all the time: Be kind! Kindness cures the soul! Kindness is the key to life! While I'll advocate for all three, it's true; caring for others makes a whirlwind of a difference, yet it is a practice that our world does not seem to honor enough. To promote the March 6 national launch of the Making Caring Common #CommonGood Campaign at Harvard Graduate School of Education, I am giving you eight reasons why we should be making caring common in all of life's contexts.
1. We never know what path someone is walking.
Strangers and close friends alike, sometimes we never really know the thoughts that are running through someone's head or the feelings that are coursing through their hearts. In these moments, being kind offers reassurance that it is okay to feel the emotions you feel; it demonstrates support and guidance; it shows that they are not alone. A smile, a 'hey, how are you?', or a shoulder to lean on can turn someone's day around.
2. There are ample opportunities to learn something new about an individual.
By offering this kindness to those around us, we can learn more about them as human beings. Perhaps we even see that we aren't so different after all! This big old world likes to make it seem like we cannot relate to one another. At the end of the day, we are all human beings capable of offering an ounce (or more!) of kindness to one another.
3. Caring breeds encouragement to take on different perspectives.
Sometimes we are so engulfed in our own perspective, we fail to take a step outside of our own comfort zones. Once we learn more about someone, we encounter opportunities to see through their eyes, encouraging us to do so in many contexts. This ultimately allows us to extend our caring beyond our immediate surroundings.
4. Our circles of concern grow.
Our circles of concern often include those in our immediate vicinity: our family, our friends, our teachers, our coaches, our teammates. Having the capacity to care for those that maybe aren't exactly like us is what this world needs! It shows that we see others for the human beings they are, and when we make this consistent, we will see positive change.
5. We can learn how to better communicate with family, peers, and strangers.
Communication is the root to every successful relationship. Without it, there is no way to articulate what is on your mind or what feelings are suppressed in your chest. When we make caring common, we become equipped with a toolkit that allows us to have those tough conversations. We are able to listen to others successes and adversity and offer input. We develop confidence in all realms of communication.
6. We are more likely to demonstrate upstander behavior than bystander behavior.
Bullying and harassment are popular topics among Making Caring Common; when caring becomes a routine action, we are more likely to stand up when witnessing acts of bullying.
Heck, if we treat each other with the utmost kindness, the chances of disrespectful interactions happening are diminished in and of itself. However, if we do see this type of behavior exhibited, we are more inclined to use sound conflict resolution to make amends for the situation.
7. It is rewarding in nature.
Being kind just makes you feel good. It's contagious. Elon University president Leo Lambert addressed Class of 2017 graduates with this line: "I can guarantee you that when you look back on your career in 40 years, it will matter more what you did for others than what you did for yourself."
Though it is important to be happy and find our worth, being caring to others unveils this sense of grace and compassion that few other actions can produce. There is simply no other way to put it than housing a happy heart.
8. Small acts of kindness can yield great change.
If we each committed to being kinder and more caring human beings, we would make a great difference. We would leave our marks. We can challenge popular opinions and encourage others to see the world through a kaleidoscope lens.
Because it is those who demonstrated their caring nature that we will forever be grateful for. It is those people we have etched in our memories, and hopefully are lucky to have standing by our sides. It is those people who will change the world.
Join Making Caring Common and their launch of the #CommonGood Campaign on Tuesday, March 6th! Though this initiative is mainly directed at schools and educational communities, there is absolutely nothing stopping us from adopting these practices into our own lives and making caring a whole lot more common.