What do you want to be when you grow up? I sure hope you’re not one of those people who thinks they are already too old to decide. Isn’t that what the new year is for? New beginnings?
I see the commercials on TV telling me I should be skinny or try a new exercise machine or buy a book to become a financially fit super parent.
I volunteer in my son’s first grade classroom once a week. I’m only there for an hour, and I never do anything that feels all that monumental, so imagine my surprise when Ben’s teacher presented me with a beautifully wrapped gift.
It is a wooden sign she had created with her own hands that says, “Believe there is good in the world.” Some of the letters are written in orange, so the second message, “Be the good”, radiates from the artwork as well.
I cried right there in the first grade classroom when I opened it. I cried because I was touched that this teacher would take the time to make something so lovely for me, and I cried because I was honored that when she thought about people who see the good in the world, she thought about me.
I do believe there is good in the world. I believe the good is actually more abundant than the evil, but we don’t see it that way because we live in a world that amplifies the darkness. We get confused and buy into the lies that this world is falling apart and we all better look out for ourselves.
But let’s stop and think about that. Is hiding in our bunker really creating the legacy we are hoping for? When you’re no longer here, do you want people to say, “She did a good job of making it to the gym everyday, and he always drove nice cars, but I don’t know much about them, they kept to themselves”?
I imagine not.
I think we all long to do something that makes a difference. Something that may in some small way leave a footprint that says, “I was here.”
Maybe that means raising compassionate children.
Maybe that means cooking a meal for a soul who hungers for a friend.
Maybe that means letting go of our wants to take care of another person’s needs.
But none of that is going to happen unless we are intentional. That’s why I ask what you want to be when you grow up.
Have you decided that when people think of you they are going to think of kindness?
Have you decided to take one tiny step each day to make that happen?
Have you decided to give up all conversations that are filled with envy or judgement and instead only use words that breathe life into the room?
This new year, I have two wishes for you. First, I hope you begin to believe there is good in the world. And second, I pray you make the choice to be the good.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her column runs every Saturday. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.