Listen to Linnea: The importance of kindness

 Since Kindergarten, our teachers, and likely our parents, have preached the importance of being kind to one another. But does all of that campaigning translate into actual behavior from high schoolers? More often than not, the pressure to fit- in with our group and blend- in takes priority over simply being kind. The amount of times I have been put in a position where I could agree with the “group” at someone else’s expense is astronomical. It’s easy for most of us to say that we would defend the other person or stand up for ourselves, but when the time comes, it’s not nearly as easy as we make it out to be.

When we are put in those positions, the decision between right and wrong has to be made in seconds. You’re forced to make a choice and a lot of the time the choice you make is the easy way out. After all, our brains are wired to make the best decision for ourselves that will come with the least amount of pain and work. What I’m suggesting is that we try to stop for a second and think about the impact of our words.

We all learned in elementary school the acronym THINK. Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? And is it kind? All of these things still stand true today, you just have to adapt them to your situation. “Is that thing so and so told me about so and so true?” “Is it really necessary for me to say that about that person?” “Am I being a kind person?” These are the things we should be asking ourselves. Don’t forget that a simple sentence can do a lot more damage than you think. So ask yourself those questions not just in those problematic situations but daily. 

I think the goal for all of us, no matter our grade or age, should be to make someone smile. We should strive to brighten someone’s day, be kind to our friends, and kinder to our enemies, and remain loyal to those we keep close to us. We can all make the world a better place by being kind wherever we go. 

I’ve discovered that the big moments in my life matter, but so do the little ones, maybe even more so. That compliment you received on your shirt the other day or even a stranger in the hallway smiling at you can make your day a little brighter, and I have a hunch that they matter to a lot of others besides you. Don’t forget that just a few words can have a positive impact too. 

The power of an open mind is also key. Rather than assuming something about a person, find out the truth by asking the person yourself. Think about whether that information about that person is even affecting you. If it’s not, there is absolutely no reason to get involved. If it is, I guarantee it’s easier to have a direct conversation with that person rather than spreading rumors and gossiping with others. Go about things with an open mind rather than malicious intent and try to hear other perspectives. 

I encourage you to branch out from your normal routine, even if it is uncomfortable. Talk to somehow you don’t normally talk to. Join a club you might be interested in. If you’re thinking about trying something new, don’t hesitate. Trying new things is what makes us well-rounded, compassionate, and empathetic people. The more you embrace the ideals you value most rather than blindly following a crowd, the happier you’ll be. 

When you’re going about your daily life, I hope you’ll think about some of these points and use them to make the world a better place. After all, we’re all humans who feel emotion, go through struggle, and are just trying to survive and find where we belong. A little kindness toward each other might just make everyone’s days a little brighter.