Be Kind

Our first night of each session is fantastic. The energy in the dining hall is palpable. Kids are smiling, the
music is pumping, and counselors are entertaining everyone at their table. It’s a grand experience!

At the end of the meal, I welcome everyone to the most amazing summer of their lives and, once the roar dies down, cover our three, non-negotiable rules. The last of the rules is this:

You don’t have to like everyone but you do have to be kind.

Living in a small, tight night community is exhilarating, fun, hilarious, and, sometimes, very rarely a little bit… challenging. A bunkmate may say something you don’t take very well. One of the younger campers may have – inadvertently, of course – bent the rules in Gaga. You may have had a frustrating practice session on stage – those lines are tough! – and are short with your buddies. That one other camper… you two just don’t fit, you know what I mean?

I get it! There are times when it can be really tough to be kind. But those are the times when we have to double down and focus on what we can control – our reaction.

The Importance of Kindness

There was a very smart person who shaped my thinking on attitude and the power we have over our reactions – Dr. Henry James. He also talked about the importance of kindness:

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

Now, you might be thinking, “But, Cole, being kind to someone who deserves to be yelled at is wrong, it’s being weak! I mean, c’mon – that kid was cheating!”

I completely disagree. Kindness comes from an internal strength that, like courage, can be built over time. Being rude or angry comes from a place of weakness. As Kahill Gibran said, “To belittle, you have to be little.”

(Regarding the cheating, – ask the counselor. They’ll be happy to help out!)

We all have a bit of weakness in us. It comes from our insecurity and our fear. I’ve never met someone without at least a little bit of those things in them. Thankfully, I’ve also known lots of people who are strong and patient and kind and tender in every situation. Many of them are at Weequahic.

Those who are consistently kind have made the decision, over and over again, to act and react a certain way. They don’t just think some kind thoughts or benignly smile on the sidelines. No, they are active in their kindness. They reach out, share kind words, help someone up with a smile, provide consequences in a gentle way. And, they treat everyone they meet this way – those who can help them and those who can’t.

It Takes Practice

No, they are active in their kindness. They reach out, share kind words, help someone up with a smile, provide consequences in a gentle way. And, they treat everyone they meet this way – those who can help them and those who can’t.

This takes a lot of time to build this habit. It’s not the most natural thing for everyone. Like learning a language or understanding finance, it comes easier some people. That doesn’t make it less important, though.

So do your best to start building your kindness muscles now. Like any other habit you want to develop, takes intention, time and practice to build. Start today: be the reason someone smiles today. Funny thing is, it’ll make your day, too!

Funny thing is, it’ll make your day, too!

Have a great weekend,

Cole