What is kindness?

What does it mean to be kind?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times and one I asked repeatedly during my 30 acts challenge on my birthday. What are acts of kindness? What acts ‘count’?

I’ve read lots of stories, especially around the holidays, of random acts of kindness. The ones reported by the news are almost always monetary, and are nearly always large in scope. A mystery person paying off layaway (which was admittedly really awesome!). A secret Santa giving away $100 randomly. As I started compiling my list of acts of kindness, I wanted to include several acts of monetary charity, like today’s act of handing out gas gift cards at the gas station. It’s random, unexpected, generous.

But is that all that kindness is? Monetary charity?

I’d expect that almost everyone would say “no.” And yet, I feel like my 25 days of kindness journey is supposed to be just about that.

It isn’t.

Kindness is about far more than giving away money. It’s giving away time. It’s recognizing that others’ needs are important. And it’s also recognizing that sometimes our needs are greater than that of others. It’s being loving toward our family as well as strangers. It’s about recognizing the need for kindness toward ourselves. It’s about having the right thoughts, the right intentions, the right words. It’s about being forgiving (gulp!).

I plan on giving to strangers. I plan on giving financially. I plan on loving others more. I plan on showing compassion to those who I want to believe don’t deserve it (oh man is this going to be hard). I plan on trying to be gentle in understanding. This month is about exploring what it means to be kind. As you extend your own acts of kindness into your life and your community, I ask that you too reflect on what it means to be kind. What acts ‘count’ in your life? And where can you find unexpected acts of kindness that bring a smile to someone’s face, acts that may seem insignificant but that, in their simpleness, can change someone’s life?