They say becoming a parent changes the way you look at the world. For once, they are right.
In the five short years I have been a mother, my perception of the world has changed drastically. Of course, I don’t give all the credit to motherhood. Some of my insight comes with age, or for the sake of my youth, let’s just call it life experience.
In my journey to become a respectable adult, I have found that the surest way to be successful is to be kind. It really is that simple. OK, there’s a bit more to it than that, but life is much easier when you practice kindness.
As I do my best to raise two little people to be respectable humans, I offer this advice to them and anyone else who might need to hear it:
1. I’m going to give you the big takeaway upfront: Kindness costs absolutely nothing and has no requirements. You can literally be kind to everyone. Kindness makes the world a better place. Someone, please, cross-stitch that on a pillow.
I know what you’re thinking, “Well, some people are jerks and aren’t worthy of kindness, because they, themselves, aren’t kind to anyone.” Wrong. They are the ones who need it the most.
Also, something to consider about those aforementioned jerks: We don’t know why they’re jerks. Not that there is ever an excuse to be unkind, but consider that there may be more to their story than what you see in front of you. Smile, say hi, or hold a door open. Lead by example. They may need your kindness more than you know.
2. Don’t get offended when your kindness isn’t reciprocated or met with gratitude, because sometimes it won’t be. Don’t let one bad interaction steal your mojo. (Do people still say mojo? I’m going with it.)
3. If you put good into the world, it will come back to you. I truly believe this. That’s not to say things will always go your way if you are kind. Some days are going to flat-out suck — that’s just life — but the crappy days make you really appreciate the good ones.
4. It won’t always be easy to be kind, but do it anyway. Force yourself to be kind. Yes, I said force, because sometimes that’s what it takes. Sadness, anger and despair work in-sync with misery, and if you let them, they will take you down and keep you there.
Now, that being said, there are days I don’t have the emotional capacity to find the silver-lining, and that may happen to you too. If it does, don’t panic. It’s OK to lie on the couch, sans pants, and watch 11 back-to-back episodes of Law and Order: SVU. That doesn’t make you a bad person, that makes you human.
As much as bad days may suck, let yourself feel the sadness or anger. Process it, devise a plan, and get back at it when you are ready. Sometimes tacos help me get ready, but you do what works best for you.
5. Because you are human, you will make mistakes, and there will be times you fail to be kind. It happens to everyone, but how you handle your mistakes is what really matters. Be humble, and apologize when you need to. Honesty and sincerity go a long way.
I can’t guarantee life will always be kind to you. In fact, odds are, you will meet quite a few of those jerks we were talking about earlier, but don’t let them discourage you. You may be just one pearl in the ocean, but there are millions of other pearls out there too, and when you all come together, it’s a beautiful thing. You’re a beautiful thing.
Now, go get ‘em.
This post first appeared on Scary Mommy