OCTOBER 6, 2016

A revolution in kindness

Kindness

By Grace Jackson, School of Applied Leadership

In the School of Applied Leadership, when we learn that a student is undergoing a crisis or challenge in their lives, we send an encouraging card signed by all of us in the department. It’s our way of letting them know we care about them and we understand that they are more than mere students taking classes. Reaching out to others is one way of showing kindness.

Recently I was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and what has been most interesting is what dealing with a crisis has taught me about others, which is a lesson in kindness. After my diagnosis an outpouring of love, generosity and compassion poured forth from every corner of the earth. My coworkers made a video of support and covered my desk with encouraging messages and thoughtful gifts; boxes of tea, votive candles and chocolates covered my desk like starfish on a beach. After surgery warm casseroles and bags of groceries were delivered to my front door. I received daily texts that encouraged me and made me laugh.

But what was most significant were the hugs, thoughtful words, and smiles given to me that didn’t cost a thing. The heartfelt kindness of others, more than anything, has helped me persist during moments of despair. If you know someone who is undergoing a tough time, a simple acknowledgment with a smile, a hug, or card does make a difference.

Kindness makes us realize that we are not alone in this journey and allows us to feel compassion for others as well.

One of my favorite writers is Annie Dillard and in her essay An American Childhood she asks, “What does it feel like to be alive?” I have often wondered, but now I know the answer to that. It is living each moment fully present with the knowledge that you could die tomorrow. It is loving every sunrise and sunset, accepting love and kindness when given and feeling a stillness when faced with new difficulties.

Most importantly it is helping others and acknowledging their pain as well.


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