Monday, January 04, 2016

kindness begins with me

I always choose a theme for my children at the beginning of a new school year, but I had never chosen one for myself as a New Year's resolution before. As I was washing dishes the other day, thinking about what I need to do differently this new year, a theme entered my mind and I knew at once that it came from God for me personally. "Kindness Begins with Me" will be my mantra.

I know that when I am kind, I feel happy. When I serve others or when a kindness is required of me that is not convenient, that burden can feel light or it can feel heavy. It can bring me joy or it can bring me bitterness. It is up to me. When I let my natural tendencies take over and I allow myself to feel burdened by opportunities to serve, I am unhappy. So why do I let myself feel that way?! This year I am going to focus on being kind, and on being kind with the right attitude. I want more of those sweet, loving feelings that come when I serve willingly in my life this year.

I found this talk by Sister Mary N. Cook that expresses my desires well. Sister Cook says, "Our Savior taught us about and lived a benevolent life. Jesus loved all and He served all. Centering our lives on Jesus Christ will help us acquire this attribute of benevolence." About benevolence, she says, "Benevolent is a lovely word that we don't hear very often. It's roots are latin, and it means 'to wish someone well'. To be benevolent is to be kind, well-meaning, and charitable." Another way to express my theme is to choose this one word, benevolence, to focus on this year.

Sister Cook then relates the parable of the Good Samaritan, found in the New Testament, a parable with which most of us are familiar, I think. This video is a good refresher (and is what we'll be watching for Family Home Evening tonight):

Sister Cook says, "Unlike the Jewish priest and Levite who passed by the wounded man, one of their own, the Samaritan was kind regardless of differences. He demonstrated the Christ-like attribute of benevolence. Jesus taught us through this story that everyone is our neighbor."

She continues, "I promise that if you will extend yourself beyond what is easy to do, you will feel so good inside that kindness will start to become a part of your everyday life. You'll see that benevolence can bring joy and unity to your home, your class, your ward, and your school. 'Remember this: kindness begins with me'."

So what can I do in my life to increase my kindness or benevolence? Well, for starters, I can give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I can assume the best and refrain from passing judgement. I can be more liberal with my smiles. I can speak with a sweet voice, even when I'm tired or overwhelmed. I can be more generous with my time. I can send more thank you notes, for goodness sake! These are small things, but I think they can yield great results. I'll keep you posted.

Happy New Year!


  1. I love that phrase! I printed it out and framed it for our living room a few weeks ago. I was actually thinking of my children learning it--but you are right; it is just as important or even more important for ME to live it.

  2. I mean, even as the years tick by for me, I remain surprised at all the influence my Ladyship has in the home! And being kind (or not) has Major trickle down affect!


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