A Hankering for Kindness

I keep wanting to be kinder.

When I was a young, ambitious woman, someone planted the seed in my mind that kindness was worth more than I had thought.

And as I become older and (perhaps) more mature, kindness seems ever more important. But again and again, I make quick judgments and give short answers that eclipse the kindness that lurks in my heart.

The Importance of Kindness

I can’t resist sharing with you this little animated video illustrated by Tim Beirbaum, bringing to life the words of George Saunders’ graduation speech to students at Syracuse University in 2013.

George Saunders says in his speech, “What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.”

And so do I.

Failures of Kindness

I regret being unkind to Steve Draper who lived up the street when I was 8.

I regret hiding in my dorm room to avoid going out with Danny Fisher when I was 19.

And I even regret not acknowledging the person on the subway last week when he asked me for change.

Small moments of thoughtlessness have a way of leaving persistent small scars on your heart. But perhaps those scars are necessary reminders of the importance of being kind.

As George Saunders says, “Kindness, it turns out, is hard. It starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and then it expands to include… well, everything.”

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Read or Watch George Saunders’ Graduation Speech

Click here to check out the speech. Take a while and savor every word. Reflect upon the speech as a whole. Let it seep in to your heart and your mind. And then forgive yourself for being unkind. Most of us are every now and then.

If you would be so bold, share your own experiences of being unkind in the comments box below. It will help you recognize opportunities to be kinder in the future.