Thursday, 27 October 2016

Learning To Be Kind

I heard an interesting phrase today when a hospital visitor was talking about a poorly patient.
" She taught me how to be kind" the woman said.
I wanted to know what she meant by the statement, so I asked her
" When I was a girl" she explained " she went out of her way to teach me fun things. She taught me to knit and to sew and to cook...her kindness made me want to be kind back"

This got me thinking on my journey home.
Can we taught to be kind.? 
I suddenly thought of a time at school when I had just entered sixth form.
The few friends that I possessed had already left school, so as a shy teenager, I was even more isolated in my chosen A level classes of Geography and Biology where numerous classes of sixth formers were lumped together in antisocial gangs and factions .
I spent great chunks of my time alone and even entering a class would  fill me with social dread and angst, so it was common for me to pick a desk at the back of the class so I could effectively disappear from view.
In my Geography class, from the second or third day, I was joined at my desk by a cheerful boy called Tim. We didn't know each other, but he sought me out and remained as resolutely good natured and friendly as I remained quiet and rather shy throughout the next two years .
We were not friends, as I never met up with him outside that one class, but he always made a beeline for me keeping me company and entertained during explorations of Brazil and the long days studying cuestas and Ox bow lakes.
Tim wasn't my real friend, he had far too many friends of his own,
But he was kind.
He sat next to me because he was kind.


52 comments:

  1. Unspoken kindnesses which make no demands are the real deal.

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  2. Yup. Just sitting next to someone and acknowledging their existence is important. It's hell, to eat lunch every day, alone.

    High school can be a horrible place, but the simplest, smallest action can change the day for the better.

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  3. A wonderful thought to ponder on indeed, heart warming, thanks for sharing!

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  4. People always remember acts of kindness. Sometimes the smallest of gestures can be the most meaningful.

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  5. Thank you. That was beautiful and something we should all ponder now and then.

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  6. I think you lead by example. My youngest son of 15 who has had hard year with severe OCD and anxiety was telling me he helped a lad about his own age on the bus with Downs. The lad was off to the cinema so my son told him where to get off etc.i was proud I can tell you esp as you hear do much shit about teens. My other son whose more outgoing and cheeky picked up some old boy who had fallen at the golf club. The cheeky devil said to those trying to get him up "stand back u you need a real man here" and got him up. Lovely story John thanks for sharing.x

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  7. That was a very friendly and kind-hearted gesture. He must have made those unsettling classes a lot easier to bear. I could have done with a Tim myself.

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  8. Teaching your childfree to be kind is a paramount lesson of parenthood/grandparenthood/carers/guardians.

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  9. What a lovely story. There are some kind souls out there thank God.

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  10. What a lovely memory.
    I am pretty certain kindness can be taught - and you exemplify it.
    The one I find hardest is being kind to myself. A work in progress.

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  11. Thankful for the 'Tims' of the world.

    I remember a nun who taught piano one year was so kind and gentle to me. She was like small and frail like a fairy of sorts. It was nice to experience at that young age.

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    1. That hospital visit was right jimbo....kindness teaches kindness

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  12. auntie glad is a kind soul. a smile and a soft word or two costs nothing, yet it can bring comfort to someone hurting.

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  13. I used to be very shy and sat at the back of the class. I could have used a someone like Tim.

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  14. Simple words to live by: be kind. We could all do well to strive for that every day. It sounds like Tim was someone who made friends easily. -Jenn

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    1. A few years ago I had the chance to pay him back just a little...I looked after his wife on itu

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    2. That was destiny John. I hope she recovered well.

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  15. Kindness, yes...and if you can't seem to manage even that, how about being civil to each other.

    I would give anything to have known Tim's parents. They held the secret of life.

    I loved your story so much, I'm going to send it to dear friends who will recognize themselves. ;-)

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    1. Gail where in California. I lived in Huntington Beach (I was young and body surfed) San Juan Capistrano and then most of my married live in Laguna Beach.
      Daughter when to university at Mills so we traveled over a lot of northern California.

      cheers, parsnip

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  16. Having been through a couple of really rough spots in life, so far .. I cannot even begin to say how much I value Kindness in a person.
    From the total strangers, years ago, who came up to me in the hospital and just sat with me, while I sat outside my teen daughters room, where she lay, with tubes and scary looking equipment that beeped .. they didn't have much to say, these ladies, they just held my hand so I was not alone ..
    When my husband died .. not that long ago .. and people just came to my door with food, people I had never met, who lived nearby but we had never been introduced ..
    The man that came to my house one day in NY when the snow was as high on my roof as it was on the ground .. feet high.
    And he said, "IF it is ok with you, my men are going to go on your roof and get rid of the snow before your roof is affected " then he refused to take a dime for it.
    I have too many stories about the kindness of strangers and people I know. We would all be in terrible shape if we / everyone were not kind .. we just need more kindness .. not less :)

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  17. John, I do think that passing along kindness, whether to those you know, or even to strangers you'll never see again, plants a seed that has a very good chance of growing.

    Clearly, that seed grew within your own soul and you've also been generous to others.

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  18. The high value of kindness. That fellow student gave you the gift and you are passing it along.

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  19. Kindness is the number one quality I look for in a person. Period. And I believe it can be taught. It's best taught to our children as they are growing up, but for anyone who wants to learn, there are many examples around us even as we become adults and then seniors. It's never too late.

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  20. That's lovely. It's a bit of a shame you couldn't respond to his friendliness, what if he wanted a friend too? I hope life treated Tim well, kindness is such a valuable gift, to have and to give.

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  21. I think you can nurture kindness and empathy in children. It's the moral duty of every parent and teacher. Having a pet helps build that aspect of a person's character. Pets teach children to put someone/thing before themselves.

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  22. Two old school friends recently connected on Facebook Yesterday I was reading their posts to each other and one said "I remember you, you were kind" I thought what a wonderful thing to be remembered 40 years later for.

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  23. Kindness, the nectar of a good life.

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  24. What became of Tim? I'm sure we can learn to be kind, we should all teach our children as much. My own mother was always very philosophical about such things.

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  25. This past summer I took Zayn, my grandson on a mission trip to an orphanage for a work week. Zayn, goes occasionally to church with me. He didn't know the kids and was on my phone 📱 nonstop because of his anxiety. Parker, a gamer too and him began to talk about strategy and what games they liked to play. We arrived and all scrambled in the guest quarters to choose where we were going to sleep and put our stuff. I took a minute to thank Parker for his kindness towards Zayn. I told him he had been struggling since his Dad died in 2014. He took him under his wing and they worked hard but played hard too. Through him Zayn connected with some of the other kids. They were sitting on the tailgate of a old Chevy going to another job site just a talking with their legs just a swinging. We can learn and should be taught to be kind.

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  26. A bit like the old nature vs nurture debate I suppose, but if child soldiers in Africa can be taught to be cruel there's no reason why the opposite can't be true.
    I think it's important to lead by example, and acts of kindness are especially important in this age where so many are too self-absorbed to give a damn about anyone else.

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  27. I spent yesterday with 3 of my granddaughters, they are aged 9, 5 & 2.
    I don't have much money to spend on them so I try to spend time doing fun things, sewing, baking etc.
    As they were going home yesterday the 5 year old said 'You are so kind to us Nana, I really hope you don't die soon'. I told her that I would try not to.

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  28. We could do with more kind people in the world. After my recent experiences with hospitals I can certainly say that they could do with having more kind people in them, I think you are kind because you asked more and spent some time with this person even though you didn't have to, you chose to to be kind!

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  29. My daughter was born kind. I'm learning from her.

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  30. 'Whatever you do in life, be as kind as you can'. Something a friend once told me he'd been taught by his dad, and a good policy to follow. Kindness can be learned and taught, and I think you exemplify it in many of your everyday actions, John.

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  31. When my son was younger he was in the village with a group of boys when one suggested calling on & annoying our then neighbour's son who was on the Autistic spectrum. We liked the boy next door & the two boys got on well talking together while jumping on our trampoline together for hours.
    My son told the boys he wasn't going to join in with that and walked off & never went around with them again. The mother of the boy who suggested the prank really liked my son & enjoyed chatting to him in her kitchen. I don't suppose her son ever told her why mine never called again. The two boys continued to be friends and I was so proud of my son. I'm not sure if what he did was kind or rather doing the right thing & standing up for someone.

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  32. Kind children have usually been taught to be kind - and almost always remain kind throughout their lives. We need more of them.

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  33. Kindness is best given with no expectation of reward.
    Kindness is the demonstration of innate human goodness.
    Genuine kindness is provided quietly, humbly and with real appreciation of the recipient.
    Bu what does "You have to be cruel to be kind" mean?

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  34. Be kind and love one another. Those were the words of my childhood.

    A bit more kindness and understanding could really be used right now in the world.

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  35. When I was a teenager, on my own in the city, Mama Fields took me into her home when she didn't have to. She gave me a solid base so I could get my feet under me and learn to be an adult. She was (still is) the kindest person I have ever known. I've used her example when dealing with others going through difficult times. Be kind to one another. Do more than is expected, even when you risk losing everything.

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  36. This is what I love about your blog, it's thought provoking without being provocative. I love its readers, too.
    Kindness, gentleness, manners, compassion, some would call them breeding but we are not dogs bred for the show. I'm just another mongrel. When my mother was living at her home and when she could no longer live there or anywhere alone, I would take my son to visit her a couple times/week. He was what's called a tweener at the time. He never once complained. He never said he didn't want to be there. He never said he didn't want to go. I hope I taught him something about love and devotion and obligation and commitment and kindness and compassion and caring and true appreciation. Well, I tried to, anyway. I suppose in time that when my time comes I'll know if I succeeded. Too damned late to do anything about it then. Oh, a sense of humor about yourself and the ironies and twists of life also helps. Never humor directed at others' foibles, though, just at your own.

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  37. What a wonderful story. We never know how much a small kindness can affect someone's life.

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  38. There is not enough kindness in this world.

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  39. I think most people would be kind if given the chance. We hear so much bad news, negativity and the bad side of folk but there is much that is good in this world and lots of people that don't have a bad bone in their bodies.

    I hope I am kind, I give away smiles and compliments at every opportunity and take time to talk to the people left on the side lines, sometimes I wish I could do more, but I do try to do what I can.

    Did I learn it, I honestly don't know, maybe I absorbed it bit by bit and never noticed .... but I hope I taught it to my boys, they both seem to be good men.

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  40. My own lad is new to 6th form and struggling more than I could put into words or would want to share here.....I only hope that on some of his difficult days there may be a `Tim` about for him. We always remember kindness dont we, I am glad Tim was there for you. X

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  41. You're full of thought provoking and sometimes a little eye welling stories lately John and I feel privileged to read them. X

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    1. Perhaps I am feeling a bit melancholy

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  42. I'm all choked up John, thank goodness Tim sought you out. Kindness and friends, you are both to so many people and other creatures.

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  43. Tim "had it " . . .
    I love following you . . .

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  44. Well, most of us do learn by example. I think back to people in my life who influenced me in many different directions. I'm grateful to those who set the example of kindness.

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