I always wonder in mid-January how many well-intended New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. So many people want to improve themselves by losing some weight, watching less TV, or spending more time reading. The New Year is a great time to wipe the slate clean and start over. Yet by the middle of January, it seems that most of us have been distracted by life and haven’t had the time (or the commitment) to make the changes we envisioned so clearly just a few short weeks ago.
This year, while I was busy with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I suddenly realized how chaotically I was functioning. I was overwhelmed with so much to do and so little time. During a rare break from all the activity one afternoon, I saw a post on Facebook that said, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”. I’d heard the phrase before but in that moment it really captivated me.
I realized that this simple phrase represented both who I want to be, and what I want my friends and neighbors (and even strangers all around the world) to experience. “Let there be peace on earth” is something I pray for this world every day, but what really struck me this time was “let it begin with me”. So as I started the New Year, I resolved to be a peace bringer. But I struggled with what that really means. How does one bring peace? I knew it had to be more than the 1960s “kumbaya” and peace sign imagery that came to mind. I figured out that “peace” for me, for today, needed to be more than just a tag line or holding up two fingers. And after much thought, I realized that peace is actually the outcome of kindness.
Being kind. It can be a challenge. It’s not hard when people are being nice to you. But what about when they’re not, or when you don’t agree with them, or when you think no one is looking?
Kindness can be as simple as smiling at a stranger, holding the door for someone, putting your shopping cart away, picking up trash (that isn’t yours) as you walk past it, or saying “thank you” (or “please” or “sorry”) and meaning it.
It also means choosing kindness in your relationships with family members and co-workers. It means making positive contributions to your community. And it means interacting kindly with those who serve you at restaurants, deliver packages or pizza to your door or even the guy selling you a lottery ticket.
By the way, kindness is contagious. One act of kindness breeds another. When you choose kindness, you feel better about yourself and the person you were kind to feels better, too. All the people around you, including your boss and co-workers will see you in a more positive light.
If you really want to improve yourself in the New Year, certainly going to the gym and spending time with family are admirable goals and I wish you success in those endeavors. But will you resolve with me to put a little kindness into the world around you? Even if just a few people try, it can make a big difference.
“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”