On December 14th we experienced a tragedy in our nation that will forever change how we live our lives and view the world we live in. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut left many of us asking questions like “Is there any good that can come out of such a tragedy? Does something like this have any redeemable value?” The popular prayer adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous asks God to grant us “serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It is a natural reaction for people to respond to catastrophic tragedies by looking for ways to do something, sadly there isn’t much that we can do to lessen the pain.
In the emotion of the moment many called for solutions regarding the issue of gun control, mental health and school safety. One of the most calming voices that emerged from the ashes of this tragedy has been ” 26 Acts of Kindness,” a grass roots movement that was started when “Ann Curry took to social media and asked people to imagine what would happen if all of us committed to 26 acts of kindness to honor each life lost in Newtown.” Many view this movement as the “courage to change the things you can.”
When we first heard about the movement, we wrestled with how we could participate as a company. We knocked around several philanthropic ideas, but most of them, although caring as they may be, seemed very reactionary. However, a question was poised “What are 26 kind things that we should do every day to our family members, to our friends, to ourselves and to strangers?” We were reminded that instead of planning a “Big Event” or limiting our kindness to a number to appease our need to do something, we should focus on truly being compassionate, loving people and invest ourselves into helping others.
Dale Carnegie gives a little piece of wisdom in his Golden Book; Principles for How to Win Friends and influence People on how we apply kindness to our everyday living that we would do well to take note of:
1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
4. Become genuinely interested in other people.
6. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most
important sound in any language.
7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
8. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
9. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
As they say, having the attitude of “leaving it better than you found it” will do much to transform the chaos we see in this world into caring. For everyone you encounter, leave them a little better off and a little more happy than when you found them. And let’s not forget about ourselves. If we cannot find peace and happiness in our own lives, then how can we give peace and happiness to someone else?