The Great Kindness Challenge

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. 🙂

9 thoughts on “The Great Kindness Challenge

  1. Thanks for posting this Shannon! It’s a great reminder to be pleasant to people. Even if personally i’m not feeling all that happy and carefree doesn’t mean I can’t be a light for someone else that day. I may be quick to anger at times…. or not feel like being in the same room as someone I don’t see eye to eye with… but sometimes a good cure for my anger is to see/make others happy, no matter who it is! Because really, I wouldn’t be doing others any favors by taking anger out on them, I’d just be spreading a bad vibe.

    [Example: An old boss, whom i still pass in the hallways or see in the elevator sometimes, he/she never says hello, never looks up, never really acknowledges certain people outside their circle. I like to kinda force a conversation with this individual, say “hello” and ask how their day is going, and they usually are pleasant back, I’d like to think secretly they appreciate someone being nice to them, I know I feel better after getting off that elevator].

    But It is strange to me as well that being “kind” has turned into sort-of a challenge. I admit I feel “challenged” when interacting with this particular individual, but It really shouldn’t be that hard to show this small act of kindness right?!! And I know I can have a better attitude about it. I think we just think about it too much, and let our personal feelings control our hearts too much. Humans aren’t perfect, but as long as we take the time to reflect on that fact, forgive others, change for the better, and then influence others to do the same- we can add all those up and turn it into “Great Kindness”. Practice this daily so it does come naturally instead of as a challenge… then move on feeling better about our actions and words; which are very powerful influences.

  2. I am so lucky to have met such a wonderful and amazing person. I have learned and am quite jealous of how strong of a person you are. I am so happy to have you in my families life and want you to know how extremely amazing and beautiful you are. I love reading your posts and theu are always so energizing and eye opening.

  3. I am a single woman and Shannon you continue to remind me what it would be like to have children and what it means to actually instill the incentive into these little human beings to be kind to others. I tend to think of my clients as my “children” and that helps me to grow and have daily reasons to nurture and “till my garden” so to speak so I am blessed to have them for that reason. Thank you for always tipping the scale to the positive my friend. 🙂

  4. Great idea indeed! #KindnessChallenge2015 I hope to nurture and create human beings that go out into the world and spread kindness. I continously try to embolden my children to that idea amongst their siblings as well. As a Mommy of three, they sometimes lend more kindness outside of the home than within. I think that goes to many family circumstances. Sometimes it’s easier to forgive and be kind to a stranger than it is to one’s own family. I hope people will read your blog and remember to be kind to EVERYONE! It’s never too late to do so.

  5. As silly as this sounds, I never thought a woman who is absolutely stunning in looks can also be absolutely stunning in kindness. Usually it seems like there is one or the other, but Shannon broke the mold. Not only is she blessed with some beauty genes where you almost feel like it isn’t fair (haha!), but she cares even if you’ve only seen her in person a handful of times. I share, yet again, a line from one of Rihanna’s songs I reference frequently, and that is, “People are going to talk whether you’re doing bad or good.” If they’re going to talk, might as well make them pea green with envy because you’re incredibly nice. Love and kindness is and can be more powerful than nasty emotions. May positivity always lead you to be lifted up, up, up.

  6. I love the idea of a Kindness Challenge. I’ve seen this a lot on my FB newsfeed. There have been 2 videos that have gone viral that really stand out to me. Both feature Asian men. The first shows the man passing by a dead plant and he simply moves the plant over a few feet until it’s under a drainpipe. He goes on to help a woman lift her food cart onto the sidewalk. The end of the video shows the results of these acts of kindness he performed. The plant is healthy and vibrant, he and the woman laughing as they joke around while moving her cart together to the sidewalk and lastly, a little girl whom he had given a few dollars a day to, standing proudly in her school uniform.

    The second video I’ve only seen once. It opens with a boy and girl in the same bakery with their grandmother. They have picked out a cake for their grandfathers birthday but their grandmother doesn’t have enough money. A young man overhears and offers to buy the cake the children picked out. When the grandmother asks him for his contact information, we see he young man write on the slip of paper and we flash back approximately 20 years prior. He is in the same bakery and picks out a cake for his birthday. His mother didn’t have enough money. An older man overhears and offers to pay for the cake. We return to the present and see the children giving their grandfather his birthday cake. They tell him about the young man and hand him the paper. On it is the same phrase he’d told the little boy so many years ago.

    In both of these videos, the main character shows kindness, just because they want to. They don’t do it to receive praise or rewards. They simply do what everyone should do. And they do it without thinking. As you said Shannon. Kindness is something we should all do, regardless of whether or not it is a “challenge”. It is not always the easiest thing to do, especially when we’ve had a bad day. But we have to remember that our children are watching and they are looking to us to be an example.

  7. Woohoo! I agree Shannon and nicely stated! Each of us should strive to make a positive difference every day in the lives of loved ones and strangers! Acts of kindness are contagious and should be as natural as breathing! Thank you for reminding us to be kind to others by your words and actions! To all your bloggers, Be the reason someone smiles today!

  8. Shannon, thank you for always reminding us of the little things in life that make such a big difference. A simple act of kindness comes from the heart and encompasses the “little things” that our parents taught us as kids. Random acts of kindness can be cantagious and you never know when your one act will inspire someone else – its the great pay it forward of life. The really nice reward is the smiles it brings to the faces of others when you reach out with a little act of kindness. Again, thank you for always showing us, with your words and daily actions, that acts of kindness make a difference. To all your readers, “commit an act of kindness and be the reason someone smiles today”!

  9. I applaud you for reminding your students to be kind to others. Sometimes in their young world, just like in the adult world, we forget that the basic acts of kindness are of utmost importance. Thank you for being one of those teachers who teach their students more than just the necessary curriculum!

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