Be Kind

posted in: Life, Life’s Lessons 91 comments


Be kind quote

“Are you okay?”

Then I burst into tears. It was four days after my first son was born. The midwife was merely checking in on me as she would every day, and she asked me that question each time. That day, I cried. Yes, it was simple postpartum blues.

It is also how I generally respond to kindness.

By crying all over people.

I have been polishing this hard, shiny exterior since I was a young lady (yes, I admit, I’m not longer a lady, hah!). Impenetrable surface, I am tough, I am strong, I don’t cry.

But kindness ALWAYS, always moves me to tears.

A simple touch, a kind word. What does it take? Not much at all.

And so, it has become my personal mantra. Be kind.

When my husband comes home from work in a less-than-stellar-mood and gets grumpy with me, I can choose to get my grump on too. Or I can choose to be kind.

When my son has the most epic meltdown over nap time, I can choose to yell. Or I can choose to be kind.

When the young lady at the mall pushes past me in a hurry, I can choose to roll my eyes and make a sarcastic remark. Or I can choose to be kind.

When my neighbor’s children are outside my door and making all sorts of noise, I can choose to judge her parenting. Or I can choose to be kind.

When the waitress in the restaurant spills a drink all over me, I can choose to be indignant and lodge a complaint. Or I can choose to be kind.

Because my husband is out there everyday, working hard for us, his family.

Because my son is only just almost-three.

Because maybe that young lady had to run off to get home because something happened. Or she really had to go to the bathroom.

Because maybe my neighbor is actually a good mother and is laughing and joking with her children.

Because maybe the waitress has been on her feet all day, working hard for her family.

A gentle word, an understanding nod, a genuine smile, a pat on the back.

It costs me nothing to be kind.

But it means everything to them.

So my friends, be kind.

PS: I am by no means a saint. I have days when I’m less than kind, and I always wish I could do the day over. Live and let learn.

Have you been kind lately?

Alison Lee is a former PR and marketing professional turned work-at-home mother. After a 10-year career in various PR agencies, and of the world’s biggest sports brands, Alison traded in product launches and world travel, for sippy cups, diapers, and breastfeeding. Alison's writing has been featured on Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends. In 2012, she founded Little Love Media, a social media consultancy specializing in blog book tours, and because she doesn’t sleep, is an editor at BonBon Break, an online magazine. Alison lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).

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  • October 29, 2012 Sarah

    No matter how tough we think we are…we all have those soft spots inside 🙂 This was a good read for me in this moment. Ugh, bed time tonight took, like, an hour. I yelled and stuff. I even had the thought, WOW. I’m not being very peaceful. My kids are just excited from the weekend. It’s taking extra to wind down. And so on. But still I was a grump. Tomorrow…I’m going to purposefully do something very very kind. Let you know how it goes!

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      I’m glad you got something out of this post. What kind things did you do? Spill! 🙂

  • October 29, 2012 Alma

    There are moments i wish I could take back and reverse to be kind. There are moments that I am kind and expect nothing and get something and I am floored. But I have never received anything worthwhile by being mean. If anything I learned from my mother is to be nicer to mean people. She has never met a stranger…she says hello to everyone in an unfriendly city. I am still learning from her… the other lesson she taught me … to give away what you love the most. She has a pure heart. I admire people like that.
    Alma recently wrote…Not another Pumpkin JackMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Your mother sounds awesome.

  • October 29, 2012 thedoseofreality

    I try. And sometimes it works. And sometimes I wish for a do over. Mostly with my children. Sadly. I do believe that kindness goes a really long way, and I love this post for saying so. 🙂

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you very much. Yes, our loved ones are usually the last to receive our kindness. Something I’m trying to change every day.

  • October 29, 2012 Kim

    I love that your mantra is to be kind. I try to be – and usually am – kind. It’s my dear family that sees cracks in my kindness more often than I would like, but I do try. And when I slip up, I try to acknowledge and explain and try harder next time.
    Kim recently wrote…Captains’ Quotes – Being HumanMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      I think it’s because we trust those closest to us, to understand that sometimes, we slip. But they are the ones who truly deserve the kindness. Hence, the need for do overs occasionally. 🙂

  • October 29, 2012 Kiran

    I have been both. A little kind sometimes and a little snarky at others. I will never ever forget though something my friend Sherri once said to me. Her son was sick at the hospital with brain cancer – he was only a few months old – and things were NOT looking good. As she was driving to the hospital, she was distracted and took an extra minute to react at a stop sign. A woman in a minivan pulled up alongside Sherri, cursed her off and flipped her the bird.

    The woman in the minivan will never know that Sherri was sitting in that car, driving to the hospital where she was watching her son die a slow death. She had no idea that Sherri would lose her son, one of a set of twins just 8 days shy of his birthday. She will never know that she flipped the bird who felt like she was dying inside as she watched her infant son receive so many surgeries on his little body that ultimately failed.

    On days when someone does something that upsets me like that – I always remember the woman in the minivan telling my friend whose son was dying “Eff you.” You never know what people are going through – no matter how much you think you do.

    Kindness is not expensive. Hatred, regret and the pain you cause in anger is immeasurable expensive.

    Kiran recently wrote…Family – Part 1My Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      What a touching, powerful, moving story, thank you for sharing Kiran. Yes, exactly. We don’t know other people’s stories, we are all fighting a battle of some kind. Living kindly is living purposefully, and that doesn’t come easy. But the results are worth it.

  • October 29, 2012 AnnMarie

    I try and remember this…try and always be kind and like others wrote, I forget a lot of the time with my kids and at the end of the day, I wish I was just kind and not angry. Like when my oldest forgets his backpack AGAIN at a friend’s and has a ton of homework that he waited until Sunday night to do it so I have to stop what I am doing and drive him to get it. I try and be kind but mostly, I am not. I’ll try again tomorrow…I swear.
    AnnMarie recently wrote…Random Thoughts and Dream AnalysisMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      No one can be perfect. No one. We can only do our best.

  • October 29, 2012 Susi

    Alison, I try to be kind most of the time too. I feel that by being kind, kindness gets returned to me. Yes, I have not so kind days but hope that the kind ones always outweigh the not so kind ones.
    Susi recently wrote…Picture Perfect Weekly #26 {A windy edition}My Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      That is my hope too, Susi!

  • October 29, 2012 Robin

    What a lovely thing to admit about yourself!

    I’m generally a kind person, but I’m more kind to friends/acquaintances/strangers than I am to my family. Not that I’m NOT kind, but I’m less accepting and therefore not as kind as I could be. I know this, but I still find it hard to fix.

    Oops, sorry. Apparently I thought this was confessional. 😉
    Robin recently wrote…Looking Into My Crystal BallMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      You’re always welcome to confess here. 🙂

  • October 29, 2012 Runnermom-jen

    LOVE this, Alison. Love that quote, the picture, your words. So simple to be kind, yet sometimes it’s so difficult.
    Runnermom-jen recently wrote…A Love Story…and pumpkinsMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Jen. You know, I took that picture in 2008 with my pretend DSLR Canon, and it’s SOOC, I only edited it to add the quote. Nature doesn’t need editing, does it?

      The hardest things are always the simple ones, aren’t they?

  • October 29, 2012 Alexandra

    Oh, yes, honey:

    Be Ye KIND.

    Everyone is fighting their own battles — even if they think they’re not.



    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      And I shall never forget YOUR kindness to me. xo

  • October 29, 2012 Leslie

    Kindness is so important, yet so difficult sometimes. I must admit to having been less than kind to the Husband this evening; and it’s killing me even after making apologies. The hurt always lasts; but the kindness lasts longer. Thanks for such an important reminder.
    Leslie recently wrote…{Friday Five} HalloweenMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      At least you were aware and you apologized – that’s a start 🙂

  • October 29, 2012 Bruna

    I love the way you think. If we all followed what you have so honestly written the world could be that much better:)
    Bruna recently wrote…10 promises I made as a teenagerMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      It would be, indeed. Which is why I try to practice what I preach!

  • October 29, 2012 Courtney Kirkland

    Yep. Life is all about perspective. Choosing to see the shinier side in life only makes US feel better. Kindness is never overrated.
    Courtney Kirkland recently wrote…Are you Ready?My Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Indeed it is not.

  • October 29, 2012 Maureen

    Powerful post, Alison. Sometimes it’s so easy to be unkind. I’m ashamed to say that I had to yelled at my son this morning while trying to get him ready for the big test for elementary school. It hit me when I saw his tears after I yelled. He just wanted an extra 5 minutes in bed. Sigh. Thank you for this post, girl!
    Maureen recently wrote…Facing His FearsMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      We all make mistakes. The important thing is that we realize it. Children are fortunately very forgiving so don’t be too hard on yourself!

  • October 29, 2012 Maggie S.

    Well said. I felt like it was just for me right now. Hmmm. Thanks.

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Why, you’re welcome, Maggie.

  • October 29, 2012 Rachelle

    A wonderful reminder… I think I’ve cried every time someone has been kind without prompting – excusing a few cents short when I got a breakfast banana… a hug and acknowledgment of a particularly melancholy day… kindness and concern and empathy that for awhile seemed lost.
    Rachelle recently wrote…She’s coming soon(er?)My Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Kindness can be moving!

  • October 29, 2012 Blond Duck

    A little courtesy and compassion goes a long way.
    Blond Duck recently wrote…Two days before HalloweenMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Yes, absolutely.

  • October 29, 2012 ilene

    Kindness starts with the compassion that you are describing – understanding the other person’s predicament – I think when we can put ourselves in the other’s person’s shoes, kindness becomes second nature. Most of the time. because like you and all of us, I definitely have my less than kind moments! Beautiful post.
    ilene recently wrote…The Man Who Didn’t Like MeMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Ilene. It’s impossible to be kind all the time (we are human!), but we should at least give it a shot 🙂

  • October 29, 2012 Barbara

    Thank you for the reminder that we all have the ability to be kind. Sometimes I respond impulsively, but I am acutely aware of the example this is setting for my boys.
    Barbara recently wrote…From Sunshine to Rain DropsMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Yes! Now that I have two children I’m accountable to – I’m absolutely more aware of what I do and say.

  • October 29, 2012 Brittany

    This is what I do as well. A little kindness goes a very long way! It means the world to me when people smile or say good morning or hold the door when I’ve got three kids and a stroller to get out. I too struggle sometimes but it s worth it to make the extra effort!

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Right? The small things do matter.

  • October 29, 2012 Melissa

    It’s such an easy thing to show small acts of kindness, but something that people withhold. I think that random kindness surprises me because I’m not usually expecting it.
    Melissa recently wrote…12 WeeksMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      I think sometimes the withholding of kindness is not deliberate. But the act of showing it has to be.

  • October 29, 2012 KG

    I’ve been kind – to my family members, to my family, to my clients.
    This story is really beautiful. Love people sometimes.
    KG recently wrote…Featured Item Fridays: Holiday Event Inspiration BoardMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      And I hope the kindness has been returned. 🙂

  • October 29, 2012 Shell

    I love this! It really is always possible to be kind.
    Shell recently wrote…Yurbuds Review and GiveawayMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      It is, really!

  • October 30, 2012 Natalie

    I do try to be kind most of the time…however I do find myself to be standoffish sometimes when I could be more kind and reach out to others.

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      It happens to the best of us. 🙂

  • October 30, 2012 tracy

    Yes. The message I give my children – always choose kindness.
    tracy recently wrote…The Real Truth About Tween GirlsMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Which is why your children are so awesome. xo

  • October 30, 2012 Carolyn

    A beautiful reminder to be kind and think about others.
    It reminds me of the line from To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus says to Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
    Carolyn recently wrote…Raising Daughters With High Self-EsteemMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Yes, exactly! Except I don’t say it that eloquently. 🙂

  • October 30, 2012 Elaine A.

    As I’ve gotten older and a little wiser, I am trying to understand that yes, everyone has “stuff” and may be going through something that we know nothing about. A little kindness can go a long way.

    Wonderful reminder and post, Alison!!
    Elaine A. recently wrote…Seeing Things Through Their EyesMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Aw, thank you Elaine!

  • October 30, 2012 Elizabeth Kane

    This one’s taken me a while to learn. I tend to go on the defense when someone annoys me like this. But if I take a breath and be nice (even a little bit), about 9 times out of 10 they either apologize or start crying saying they’ve just had a really hard day. Both make us all feel a little better…at least until we have chocolate, or a drink.

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      I believe in the power of chocolate. 🙂

  • October 30, 2012 Chris Carter

    Lovely post! What a great conviction to always be kind. It’s SOOOO hard sometimes isn’t it? Especially on those days you have nothing left. Nothing left to give. No patience. Done. But I think of all the people in my life who have wandering onto my path and BOOM! Kindness. I owe the world it back…
    Chris Carter recently wrote…So Many Angels…My Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      It’s amazing how you can draw from nothing, sometimes. And it’d always worth it.

  • October 30, 2012 Erin

    I ABSOLUTELY love this!
    It is so good to always think about others. You never know what they are going through.
    Erin recently wrote…DIY Dish Detergent w/o BoraxMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Erin!

  • October 30, 2012 Amanda Jillian

    Kindness does the same thing to me. And I had the same moment when I was about 5 months postpartum and finally told my OB I thought Ihad PPD and he agreed I busted out crying. I felt like such a failure for needing help.
    Amanda Jillian recently wrote…A rose by any other nameMy Profile

  • October 30, 2012 My Inner Chick

    Dear, Alison Lee,
    I DO hope I am always kind.
    And these are the sort of people I gravitate towards, as well.
    Individuals who are kind turn me on…You know what I mean?

    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Annie Lamott, Kenya, & My First Blogging CheckMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      I KNOW you are kind. I just do.

  • October 30, 2012 Janice

    We could all use a little kindness. So true.
    Ever watch the movie “Pay It Forward”?
    We need more of that.
    Thanks for the inspiration. 😉
    Janice recently wrote…First Of AllMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      I did and I do remember it!

  • October 30, 2012 Lady Jennie

    What an amazing quote, and an amazing reminder. I will try to put this into practice today.
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…Mushroom Soup for the SoulMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Jennie.
      You do know that you ARE kind, right?
      I hope you know.

  • October 30, 2012 Galit Breen

    Kindness first. Always.

    Absolutely love this, you.

    Galit Breen recently wrote…Running My First 5kMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      I learn from the best (you). xo

  • October 30, 2012 misssrobin

    I have been focusing this entire year on being kind. I’m kind most of the time. It’s those times when I lose it at home that I’m really trying to refine. Your post was a beautiful reminder. Thanks.
    misssrobin recently wrote…My Therapy NecklaceMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Thank you Robin.

  • October 31, 2012 Jessica

    It’s good to be kind to others. It gives you good karma and makes them feel better.
    Jessica recently wrote…How Vampires Stay Safe Trick or TreatingMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      We could all do with some good karma.

  • October 31, 2012 Kimberly

    This is something I’ve been working on. It’s not always easy, but I’m trying.
    Kimberly recently wrote…Her WrathMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      As my dad used to say, better to try and fail than fail to try. 🙂

  • October 31, 2012 Stasha

    Love this. Truly is the simple acts of kindness that move the world.
    Stasha recently wrote…Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Yes, exactly.

  • November 1, 2012 Julia

    LOVE this!!!! You are so very kind.
    Julia recently wrote…Halloween DecorationsMy Profile

    • November 1, 2012 Alison

      Aw, thanks Julia!

  • November 2, 2012 Tricia

    Such a good reminder. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately too, especially after a trying weekend with lots of snapping out by me. This week I am definitely trying to be kind.
    Tricia recently wrote…Halloween and HurricaneMy Profile

    • November 2, 2012 Alison

      Oh Tricia, you just had a baby. Fatigue is a major contributor to a lack of kindness. Take it easy on yourself.

  • November 3, 2012 lisacng

    Great reminder, especially being kind to our husbands and children b/c they seem to always get the worst of us. Those we love the most we hurt the most.
    lisacng recently wrote…Halloween {photo}My Profile

    • November 13, 2012 Alison

      Life’s irony, isn’t it? That we need to remind ourselves to be kind to those we should anyway.

  • November 4, 2012 Nikky44

    I always choose kindness although i know some people take ral advantage of that. Being too nice can cause us pain, but it’s hard to be different.
    Nikky44 recently wrote…Suicide? Why?My Profile

    • November 13, 2012 Alison

      How others react to our kindness is out of our control. We can only choose how we act.

  • November 13, 2012 Tonya

    Kindness is key!!

    I try to stop myself all the time and think about what may be going on in someone else’s life that causes them to be so abrupt, judgey and rude. Bottom line is I have no idea, but I can choose how to react to it and kindness is an awesome way to go.

    Wonderful post and timely reminder as we are all about to get uber busy with the holidays, etc.
    Tonya recently wrote…Dear FamilyMy Profile

    • November 13, 2012 Alison

      YES! We are in control of our actions and reactions. Holidays do test us though, don’t they?

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