By: Shannon Shull
This past week, the school that I have the pleasure of teaching at decided to partake in the Great Kindness Challenge. It was a big deal at the school. Our students were reminded and encouraged to be kind and engage in acts of kindness.
I personally discovered that it was an interesting experiment in humanity. I overheard some students bragging about holding a door open for someone, picking something up for someone, and other very simple acts of kindness. Many students were patting themselves on the back for these simple acts and even acting a bit entitled and special for doing these acts.
I had a problem with this. I have to admit, I even got my feathers ruffled a bit because the fact of the matter is, we should do simple acts of kindness on a daily basis. It should not be a challenge to be kind to others!
I took this opportunity to bring the important issue out in the open with my students. I described to them simple scenarios in which, if you are a good human being, you would be kind regardless of any existing challenge encouraging good behavior. It should be a given. I made it clear that I would hope that any of them would come to someone’s rescue if they needed help – whether that be holding a door open, helping clean up a mess, or coming to someone’s aid that is hurt.
I challenged my students to think about what a true kindness challenge would be. We discussed the importance of simply being a good person and how being kind is, and should be, an everyday thing. So as we experienced the “Great Kindness Challenge,” I challenged my students to go above and beyond the everyday kindness that they should already display. I encouraged them to think about how they could take that extra step to be kind and make a real, positive difference in the lives of others.
My hope is that I opened the eyes of my students. Whether I was able to or not, I’m honestly not sure. But I hope and pray that my students do not think of being kind only when challenged, but as a daily way of life, simply because that’s what it means to be a good person.
I came across this lovely video of a young man who was bullied and had to change schools, and made a conscious decision to be noticed and accepted instead of fading into the background unnoticed. He devoted time to being kind to others by holding doors open at the new school – not one day, but many days, weeks even. He became known as the doorman, that super nice guy who always held the door open for others. He became everyone’s friend. He became an enormous inspiration and touched the lives of others around him in such a beautiful way. His simple act of kindness, in hopes to be noticed and accepted, blossomed into a kindness epidemic that spread acceptance and light. I showed this video to every single one of my classes, using it as a brilliant example of meeting a true kindness challenge – a challenge of going above and beyond a base level of kindness that is expected of any good human being.
I hope you’ll take the time to watch this beautiful story and let it inspire you to accept the kindness challenge by going above and beyond, broadening your daily doses of kindness to bring light into the lives of those around you. 🙂