How many times do you think some ugly or disagreeable thought and manage to keep it to yourself? Good job! It’s better to button our lips when we know what we want to say isn’t kind.
But this new year, I’d like us to resolve to open our mouths. Let our words flow. No, not the negative ones, but the ones that could be the balm to someone else’s pain.
Just like Merle Selvaag explains in this next story, our words can melt away the stress of the day and leave both the giver and the receiver feeling renewed.
"The first week of December, I was shopping at Target in Moorhead. I was in the kids and baby areas looking for a gift.
"We have all probably witnessed more than a handful of crying/sassy kids in these areas, right? Well, not this evening.
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"It was around dinnertime and as I shopped, I noticed a young mom and her son (maybe 8 years old) conversing as they went up and down the aisles. It was not like the usual displays of tempers and hangry tantrums that one often witnesses at the bewitching period around the supper hour. Nope, their conversations were kind and courteous to each other, and this is what made me take notice.
"Son: 'Mom, I like this toy.'
"Mom: 'Not this time. We are shopping for someone else this time.'
"Son: 'OK, Mom.'
"And so on.
"It warmed my heart. I mulled it over... should I or shouldn't I say something to this mom? I hadn't yet made my decision, but as I pushed my cart to head to the next aisle, she was right there. So I made the decision right then to go ahead and say something.
"I said, 'Excuse me, I just have to tell you I think you are doing a wonderful job of being a mom. I have been hearing bits and pieces of your conversations through the aisles, and your interactions have impacted me greatly. You are raising a nice young man right here.'
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"She listened to my words and immediately came to give me a tight hug! She had tears in her eyes as she said, 'Thank you! And thank you for saying something! I have had a rotten day and feel like a horrible mom right now.'
"I assured her she was doing all the right things, judging from the kind and considerate boy she had with her. We parted ways after another hug. I felt the glow of happiness from her response for days afterward. What an honor it was to be the giver and receiver of joy!"
Every day we cross paths with people who are doing so many things right. They are being considerate and loving and patient.
Let’s be the ones who get to tell them someone notices. Make a resolution to be the one to say something kind.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at email@example.com.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.