Kindness… You were expecting LOVE???  Hearts, Cupids, Valentines???

But ~ what is the first expression of love?  KINDNESS. Plain and simple.

GOOGLE informs that ‘love’ as a noun is ‘an intense feeling of deep affection.’ Synonyms: warmth, fondness, tenderness, endearment…

Let’s just go with warmth, in action, as KINDNESS.

Kindness instills warmth.  Starting with those we love dearly and are close to us.  Kindness to our more peripheral attachments at work, school, etc.  Extend that to the service people that enhance our lives ~ servers in restaurants, auto repair, markets ~ EVERYWHERE.

This winter, while in Center City, I noticed a trend with the homeless and handicapped while at Reading Terminal Market and on the cold, windy streets … Discreet, small placards asking simply to SHARE ‘…even if it’s just a smile.’  Yup, that is the message.

Noticing what exists. Kindness, in general, is ‘noticing.’ Certainly lights up my kindness beacon…warmth.

All embodied in simple acts of KINDNESS.  Dwell on what kindness-at-large accomplishes…

It’s February…it’s cold!  It’s dark when we wake up…  Ahhhh…a warm shower. Hot beverage next on your agenda?  Coffee, tea, cocoa…hmmmm.  All appealing, right?  Then a warm coat before we head out into the cold.  Maybe you have warmed up the car, in advance, for yourself or your family. Your first act kindness before you leave your house may be to prepare anything mentioned for your partner, family or housemate/s.  That will warm everyone/s’ hearts ~ including your own.

Continuing with KINDNESS in action…

Remembering it’s cold… Hold the door the first opportunity that presents for the person before or behind you.  The one on the way OUT is bracing for the cold…the one going IN is embracing the anticipation of warmer air.  Either way…the gesture is always appreciated (yes, even when that person does not say ‘thank you’ ~ grrrrrrr!). Keep in mind, as a kindness to yourself, that it matters what YOU are doing…not what happens in return.

Look for a chance to help someone that is obviously nervous about a slippery pavement, hilly parking lot ~ hesitant in any way. Hop out of the car (if you are a passenger) to help an elderly person cross a snowy, or icy, street.  Even if they refuse your help…they feel your support.  And someone just might just notice your act of kindness and pay it forward the next time they see someone struggling.

How about that person that just rubs you the wrong way? Yes! ~ they abound to even the most tolerant.  Definitely a challenge.  The kindness here, again, may be to yourself.  Diffusing the angst is a gift to yourself by relieving the stress, in advance.  You may just leave the next encounter with more pep in your step!!!

Kindness in action is invaluable.  We truly never know what another person has going on.  Just as no one else truly knows what is going on with us.  Even when our lives are wonderful…we are all busy and stressed with the good stuff.

We all also know plenty of people that have huge challenges with work and/or family ~ and wonder how they deal with it. We ask ourselves how we might handle it. These are the obvious situations where our acts of kindness are most appreciated.  Many times we think of them and intend to call, visit or send an acknowledgement of their situation…and another day, week or month goes by without us taking action.  Here is your KINDNESS CALL TO ACTION!!! Sometimes it is uncomfortable for us…we feel we may be intruding.  Just do it. Inaction accomplishes nothing in the kindness realm.  AGAIN, it is a kindness to yourself…you will feel good about it!

Kindness ‘within’ begins with gratitude. If you decide to take on February as the KINDNESS Month…

Examine your Grateful List. Don’t have one??? ~ Start one!

People in your life ~ present and past.  Send a handwritten note. Texts, emails and voice mails are nice … a handwritten note is a forgotten art.  Maybe one a week; a month; a day!  Did someone have a loss you did not acknowledge at the time…do it now. Something joyful happen ~ new baby, grandchild, job, house, car, promotion, graduation???  Illness, surgery, accident???  Acknowledge it with a handwritten note.  Seriously…game changer!!!

Gratefulness Journal???  ONE item a day.  A beautiful bound journal ~ or a list in your mobile device.  Amazing practice to take on. The ‘writing’ by hand can be soothing ~ another stress-buster.  Having the list with you in your mobile can be an instant boost.  Choices, choices, choices!!!

See an uplifting, inspirational quote…Write it in your journal (again, the tactile motion of writing is a bonus)…yet, having it with you in your mobile may spark joy!

Kindness in motion.  Act, feel, share, acknowledge. Life changing to yourself and those who receive your kindnesses.  Warmth.  Let it be cold outside ~ warm within.

Happy Winter!