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« Small signs of change | Main | Climbing the same mountain »

Making kindness my goal


My friend Gary Hartzell passed along this wonderful link: George Saunders’s Advice to Graduates (NYTimes Magazine, July 31, 2013). I suppose everyone else in the world has read this very funny, but very touching and very profound granduation speech from last spring. In it, Saunders writes:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. 

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly.

...kindness, it turns out, is hard – it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include…well, everything.

Read the whole thing. It will take you less than five minutes and you will thank me for asking you to do so.

I spent today in some very, very warm school buildings, walking about, checking to see if teachers were having any problems or had any questions about technology as they prepared for the kids coming back after Labor Day. I was actually able to fix a few tech problems - hooking up phones, showing some tricks in GoogleApps, setting up e-mail in a teacher's new iPhone, and even establshing a network connection. Pretty good for me. And most people were happy, friendly, and excited to be back.

But then there were the few. Those who were angry we are moving from Office to GoogleDocs. Those whose files did not get moved from old computers to new. Those simply frustrated or overwhelmed by technology, the heat, the new pressures and expectations of teaching.

I takes some effort to be kind sometimes and I thought about teachers dealing with kids who are angry, who are frustrated, who feel overwhelmed - and face challenges and fears greater than most of us can imagine.

I don't know if kindness is contagious. If by experiencing it, one is more likely to pass it along. I hope so. I'm making kindness my goal for the year.  After all, as Aesop reminds us, "No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."

See also: A Secret Weapon: Niceness

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Reader Comments (3)

Thank you for push to read the kindness graduation speech. Embedding the attitude this school year can do nothing but reduce regrets and help make each day a little richer.

August 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Lambert

A friend once told me to smile at the first three people I see each morning and say, "Good morning, " even if I don't feel like smiling. I find it brings me out of my mood if I am feeling grumpy and it almost always rewards me with three smiles in return.

August 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGwen Martin

Thanks for the note, Marsha. have a wonderful start to your school year.


Hi Gwen,

Pretty good advice. I think may especially true for those of us who are married - smiling at our spouse and kids!


September 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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