Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with a woman who was reminiscing about finding photos of her 25th wedding anniversary, which was 26 years ago. Enthralled by relationships, I could not pass up the opportunity to seek her advice and opinions on the topic of marriage. Having been with my husband for twenty-eight years, more than half of our lives, I too have been asked this question, but as Socrates would suggest, “The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing”. I was eager to hear the advice of someone who had been married for more than half a decade, so I asked ‘what was the secret to a good marriage?’

“The secret to marriage?” she pondered my question, and as she did, her gaze moved to the distance, a look of deep reflection falling across her face. “Kindness” came her certain reply. “Be kind to each other. He might be an a$#%* sometimes, but I just say, ‘come here and give me kiss’”. With that, she walked gingerly away, leaving me with a smile on my face, and new ideas to consider. Thank you, Socrates, – you’re right again. My thoughts on lasting marriages relate to unwavering commitment. Others I have asked suggest communication, humour & respect as necessary tools. I am certain you could add your own thoughts. On this day however, I was left to ponder kindness.

The topic of kindness is a characteristic and goal we value greatly at our early learning centre. Whether it be modelled by staff, practiced by children or shared with families and visitors, we certainly aim to be considered a centre of ‘kind’ people and work consciously to foster this. I was curious why I had not previously linked kindness as a necessity for a successful marriage, and grateful of the awareness this interaction extended in my life. Roger Duncan, a writer for Forbes magazine, suggests some people seem to regard kindness as a nice-to-have-but-unnecessary-personality-trait, however. That possibility is unnerving, so I am challenging this today.

Yes, kindness is very much a nice-to-have personality trait, but it is also a necessary-to-have personality trait! Imagine how the world would change if kindness was paramount. How differently would children experience their young and carefree lives if kindness was embedded by all they encountered? I appreciate these are high hopes, but a girls got to dream, right? The following definitions makes this cause even more worthy.

Kindness is described as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.

Let’s break that down:
Friendly: I trust you are with me when I say I would much prefer to be in the company of a friendly person as opposed to the alternative. Spouse, friend, family member, shop assistant, colleague – it’s irrelevant. Kindness over the alternative every time please!
Generous: in my opinion, generosity is so much more than financial declarations. It includes emotional generosity, generosity of the spirit, of time or effort, or my favourite, a generous intention for the good of others.
Considerate: ahhhh, consideration. Where would we be without it, both short term and long term, and in the context of our community and wider context of the world? Consideration is necessary and vitally impacting for our social world. Considerate gestures are like an intangible gift of thought that can provide a boost of surprise, delight, love and appreciation, particularly when unexpected. Who doesn’t like to be surprised by a considerate action? And when implemented by a stranger – even better!

So this is my request to you. Who are you going to be consciously kind to today? Is it a stranger or a loved one who will be best served by your heart space? Your gesture does not need to be one of grandeur or opulence. A kind word, a timely caress, an interest in someone’s day or a baked treat. The possibilities are endless.

But just one more thing – remember to be kind to you first.