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Essay: Everyday Kindness

“Being kind and considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.” 

~Marian Wright Edelman

Cindy La Ferle

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It’s not just me. Everyone’s mourning the loss of kindness and civility. Within the past couple of years, especially, there’s been a remarkable increase in thoughtless behavior and cruel comments — a general lack of respect that erodes our very souls. It starts at the top with belligerent political leaders and filters down to the rude grocery shopper who rams into your cart and doesn’t bother to say, “Excuse me.”

One friend calls it “The Era of Nasty” — and we all wish it would end right now.

I’ve been making an effort to practice deliberate acts of kindness every day. I smile more at strangers and offer help when I see a need. When I catch people doing something wonderful, I tell them so. If I’ve received exceptional service at a local business or a restaurant, for instance, I express my appreciation verbally as well as with a generous tip. I might even send an email or a letter of gratitude to the manager.

Over time, the simplest lack of courtesy can wear out our personal relationships, too. 

If we take an honest inventory of how we treat our friends and family members — the relationships we take for granted — we’re all guilty of falling short sometimes. How often do we neglect to respond to emails and texts, or call to check on a friend who’s been ill? How often do we forget to reciprocate a favor or a home-cooked meal? How often do we thank our kids or parents for the joy they give us? How often do we apologize for an insensitive remark, or compliment our spouse when it’s sorely needed? How often do we treat others the way we want to be treated?

Rude comments, incivility, road rage, and even violence have become part of our new normal. Now, more than ever, kindness is a spirit-lifter. We can’t change the graceless or insensitive behavior of others, but we can try to make a difference by spreading kindness to people within reach. Everything starts at home. ~Cindy La Ferle

Throughout my career, I've worked as a book production editor, travel magazine editor, features writer, and weekly newspaper columnist. My award-winning lifestyles features and essays have appeared in many national magazines and anthologies, including Newsweek, Reader's Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Writer's Digest, Victoria, Better Homes & Gardens, Bella Grace, and more. My weekly Sunday "Life Lines" column ran for 14 years in The Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, MI) and won a First Place (Local Columns) award from the Michigan Press Association. My essay collection, Writing Home, includes 93 previously published columns and essays focusing on parenthood and family life.

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