“Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?”
– J.M. Barrie, 1902, The Little White Bird
J.M Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, wrote this in 1902. The book I read it in paraphrased it: “Always be a little kinder than is necessary.” For some reason this quote resonated with me. Probably because it sounds so simple but can be so hard to do. But don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’re a mean person. Maybe just a little… self-focused in that moment. Who here has zoomed through the grocery store line without even making eye contact with the check-out clerk, so intent were you on rushing to pay, maybe bagging it up yourself, and dashing off with your cart so you could get dinner started, hurry-hurry-hurry? Or maybe you’ve found yourself feeling that awkwardness that comes with not really knowing when is the appropriate moment to make eye contact with the stranger you’re about to pass, so you avoid eye contact altogether, whew-weirdness-averted? Or maybe your struggle feels more consuming, and you wonder if everyone is looking at you and judging you, or perhaps you fear that you’re not worth noticing at all? All of these render us really self-focused in the moment, which makes it hard to focus on being kind to others. “Great,” you might be thinking. “All I have to do is stop being in a hurry, or ever feeling weird or insecure, or thinking that others don’t like me.” For some, changing these ways, feelings, and thoughts is a long and familiar struggle. So start with a small step. Strive to be a little kinder than is necessary in one situation today. And then tomorrow do one more.