In honor of my daughter’s 15th birthday, I would like to repost an essay she wrote last year about kindness. Keri is one of the kindest people I know, and I am so grateful she is my daughter.
“Kindness is like a spark from a match that creates a forest fire. The forest is a forest of anger, selfishness, and cruelty. Kindness can burn through all of those things.” -Keri Cuthriell
Kindness by Keri Cuthriell
One thing people today overlook far too much is the simple yet effective act of kindness. In this cold new world overtaken by selfishness and greed is a desperate need for those little acts of care. Just a helping hand or a quick show of compassion can turn another person’s day completely around.
Sometimes even a friendly smile can save a life. People often forget others and become very engrossed in their own problems. This leads to a negative downward spiral and a chain reaction of selfishness. A generation of selfish people is the last thing we need today. Imagine if everybody was willing to be kind and compassionate to each other. If it was not forced, but a habit. This would change the world.
Everyone has experienced difficult times at one time or another when things were not going well and needed an act of kindness to brighten up their day. If it wasn’t for that one person, that one act of kindness, they might not have the life they have today. Remember how effective just the smallest act of kindness can be. Know that you can do this for others. In the long run, you may not be just helping one person but multiple people. Kindness is like the spark from a match that creates a forest fire. The forest is a forest of anger, selfishness, and cruelty. Kindness can burn through all of those things.
It’s very important for people to remember that anger is powerful. So is selfishness along with cruelty. However, kindness overpowers all. You may think your kindness makes a difference for other people only, but it doesn’t. What comes around goes around, and your act will be returned. Your most important reward is knowing how much you just helped someone in need. You feel satisfaction knowing that you might have saved someone’s day, week, or even life. What you have really been given is the most precious gift you can receive, the gift of kindness. Everyone is capable of being kind. Everyone can help. The real question is, why don’t we? This should not be a question. Kindness should come automatically. It should be common rather than a rarity. We can make this happen and do something kind today.
“No matter how small, an act of kindness never goes unnoticed.”
Keri, I love who you are. You make the world a better place. Happy Birthday!
Inspirational, Psychology, Relationshipsacts of kindness, Compassion, Kindness, small acts of kindness, the snowball, the snowball effect, treating people with kindness
MAKE LISTS: Jot down as many answers as you can.
Who did you help today? Who helped you?
What are you grateful for?
What moments of this day brought you a feeling of peace or joy?
Who would enjoy receiving a handmade card or handwritten note? Consider choosing people you know personally and/or those you have heard about in the news. Discuss your choices.
Make a list of characteristics a good leader should have. Make a list of the characteristics a good citizen should have. How are these lists the same? How are they different?
Make a short list of things you, as a family, would like to change about your community, state, or country. Then discuss what action you could take to begin working toward some of those changes.
Make a list of things that are important about you and each of your family members that others would know just by looking. Make a list of things that are important about you and each of your family members that others would not know just by looking. Which list is longer? Which list feels more important? What does this teach us about other people?
Who do you know (friend, neighbor, relative, classmate, anyone!) who may be struggling with loneliness, illness, or grief? Make a list of simple things you could do to help that person.
Notice five complimentary things about your family members (or teacher or classmate, etc.).
What causes or issues are most important to you? How can you support those causes?
What emotions have you experienced in the past twenty-four hours?
ASK BIG QUESTIONS: Channel your inner philosopher and explore complicated ideas together.
Why do you think it's important to spend some of our time giving back to the community?
How do you think people feel when you do something kind for them? How do you feel when you've done something kind?
Why do you think it’s important that friends, teachers, neighbors, coworkers, and students help each other throughout the day?
What does it mean to have courage? Have you ever had to be brave?
If you could change one thing in the world, what would you change?
If we live in a free country, can we do whatever we want, whenever we want?
What does it mean to live in a community with others? What rules (laws) does a society need to run smoothly?
Talk about the distinction between courage and recklessness. Give examples of each. Emphasize the need for difficult decisions to be well-considered and the importance of acting on our values rather than our impulses.
Together, imagine arriving in a new country without knowing the language or customs. What would it be like to have to leave home quickly and suddenly? What would you miss? How would you feel?
ASK PERSONAL QUESTIONS: Self-reflection can help you face real-life challenges with more grace and confidence.
What would life be like if (someone specific, a friend in the car pool, a neighbor, a story from school) didn’t help you out today?
How do you make yourself feel better when you feel frustrated or angry at school? What about bored or tired? Excited?
If you won a grand prize of $1,000, how would you spend it?
If you won $1,000 and could not spend it on yourself or your family, how would you spend it?
Describe a moment when you felt proud.
Describe a moment you regret what you did or wish you had acted differently.
What should we do if we notice something that is unfair at school or in our community?
How does it make you feel to get a compliment? To give a compliment?
Talk about how making certain choices might result in the loss of popularity and how to navigate that with courage.
TELL STORIES: Explore big ideas through fiction by writing short stories, poetry, or comic strips.
- If you could have one super power, what would you choose? Write a brief story about how you use your power to help someone.
- An older student starts making fun of your friend's new shoes. What do you do or say. What would you be afraid of? What happens next?
- Write a story, poem, or comic about a child who finds a lost or hurt pet.
- Create a biography about a kid who invents a tool to save the rain forest, end homelessness, cure an illness, or eliminate loneliness.
- Write about a disagreement you were involved in recently, but write it from the perspective of the other person.
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