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A toast to kindness in 2012

December 30, 2011 - Betsy Bethel
I have a friend who recently implored on Facebook for people to be a little kinder, to think about others before they speak or act, to realize that other people matter and have feelings. She made her plea on behalf of her 5-year-old son, whose feelings were hurt after an employee at a local recreation complex was rude and dismissive of him.

On behalf of that boy, my family and the Ohio Valley community, I would like to join her to help put bad manners and self-centeredness on the back burner and remind people of the Golden Rule and long-lost values of decency and kindness.

I realize that, first, I have work to do at home, with myself, my daughter and every member of my family.

Why do we find it so difficult to be kind to one another? Well, basically, I thinkit's because it requires us to pause a moment and reach beyond our immediate wants and needs. Putting others first is hard work, especially if you're not used to doing it. It's like exercising. It takes a conscious effort, it can even be exhausting at first, but once the habit is formed, you do it almost without even thinking.

When we are so consumed by getting what we want, when and how we want it, every minute of every day, it's easy to ignore, brush off or find fault with others with whom we come in contact. I know when I am at my most stressed and most rushed, that's when I most often disregard the feelings of my family members, let alone the strangers in the cars as I drive through town or the bag boy at the grocery store.

So, in 2012, my goal is to make a conscious effort to be a better steward of my time so I am not stressed and rushing and less prone to barking orders, speeding through town or otherwise being an ogre. The less stressed I am, I think the more able I will be to think before I speak or act, and to ensure my words are encouraging, not hurtful, no matter who I am speaking to.

I am reminded of Chris Figaretti's Be the Blessing campaign that took off here in the Ohio Valley a few years ago. I'd like to see a revival of that movement in 2012! I'm also reminded of the old church song: "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me."

What do you need to change in your current lifestyle to make room for blessings, peace and kindness in 2012?


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