On the popular television show, Songland, recording artist Will I Am chose a new song to record from a group of songwriters. The title–Be Nice. The lyrics are simple- Hey, be different, be nice. Just smile. I promise it will change your life. While these lyrics won’t go down as award winning, the sentiment is so needed in our culture today. Just be nice, be kind.

So why are we seeing such an uptick in unkind behavior? This trait, usually taught in early childhood, seems to have disappeared on a cultural level, especially on social media. Yet, kindness goes a long way to sustain relationships. It creates positive emotions that help people cope with life.

When you don’t love, it’s hard to be kind. When you hate, treat others poorly, judge, and are constantly angry, your heart is filled with darkness not love.  Kindness is in the list of the fruit of the Spirit. It is born out of love. Both kindness and love should mark the life of a person of faith. If you want a friend, a partner or someone to simply do life, look for these markers of kindness and assess them in your own life:

  1. Kind people are nice without expecting anything in return. They are not takers or focused on themselves. They genuinely give to others.
  2. Kind people are easy to be around. They draw others and have influence.
  3. Kind people are sensitive to the feelings of others. They are not self-centered, rather other-centered.
  4. Kind people listen attentively. They don’t text during your conversation or think about other things, appearing distracted and disengaged. They are focused and listen to you.
  5. Kind people do unexpected things. They pay for your lunch, babysit your child, bring you a meal, give you a ride to the airport, etc. They are kind when you least expect it.
  6. Kind people gain a reputation for being nice. People are drawn to them.
  7. Kind people are generous. They are not doormats or push overs. Rather they show love in tangible ways. And due to their kindness, they risk being taken advantage of now and then.
  8. Kind people don’t make excuses. They take responsibility and try to do better.
  9. Kind people don’t give unkind behavior to unkind people. Instead, they avoid careless words and don’t lash out in anger. In other words, they don’t reciprocate unkindness with unkindness.
  10. Kind people help when people are in need. It’s part of their DNA to do kind acts.

If we all adopted kindness as our default, we could change the culture. We would be less judgmental, care about our neighbor, the poor, the oppressed and the broken-hearted.  What a difference it could make. So in the words of artists Will I Am, Hey be different, be kind!

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