One of the things that has always been an important part of character training for my children over the years has been kindness. I've stressed the value of being kind. At first it was simply to each other. I never allowed mean teasing or making fun of each other. I stressed how this would make them feel and do they like that feeling?
There are simple ways in life to be kind. One that I practice is to smile. Sounds small, but I smile at people when I'm out and about. I've seen grumpy faces light up with just a simple smile. I've seen smiles come back to me that made my so-so day brighter.
I have one daughter who is a cashier at a grocery store. It's amazing the amount of grumpy, grouchy, and sometimes just unkind people she comes across in a day at work. I know we don't think much about how we interact with the person checking out our groceries or items at a department store. But, they deal with a lot of people and it would be easy to get callous and be rude. And I've experienced that with cashiers. But no matter what I encounter I smile, I talk to them, I ask them how their day is going. I thank them and tell them I hope they have a great day. I've seen amazing things happen. The most grumpiest of cashiers are no longer grumpy when I walk away and they are smiling. And I pray that a small act of kindness means as much to them in that day as it did to me. Because giving a little kindness can be a blessing to both the giver and receiver.
The other thing I try and remember is that when in a difficult situation, I stop and think before replying. Because when something happens, honestly, my first thoughts (if it is a difficult situation) are not always the most kind. But, I remember that the Bible says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 NIV.
Kindness is always the best route. As I've told my children seek peace and give kindness first. There has been a quote I've seen on the internet that I can agree with: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.“ I'm not exactly sure who wrote this as I find different answers on line. But the meaning to me says.. we don't know what is going on in someones life that may make them grumpy or unhappy. Maybe today they just need a little kindness, a smile, a nice word spoken. It is an important character trait and will make less drama and more joy for all involved.