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Posted on Nov 2, 2010 in favorites | 2 comments

The Art of Kindness

By Jill MacGregor

I wish I was kind—like Mary Poppins kind.

I wish I said the right thing when people needed to hear it far more than I do. I wish I didn’t pick and choose who got my kindness remnants—I wish I threw it up in the air like confetti and let it land where it may. But I’m selfish with it—sometimes I think people have to earn it. That just never feels right.

I consider it a failing, this inability to distribute kindness wantonly. With wanton.

A la wanton.

Ironically, I am surrounded by the kindest of the kind…they actually choose to be around me…I must be a special project. They hang in when times are tough. They listen. They reward. They model kind behavior while pet/horse/bad Jill whispering me into believing that I can be more than an intern with this whole kindness thing.

Easy, eeasy…Pat, pat, here’s a treat.

Here’s what they’ve taught me, my friends and family, and I try my best to parrot them. Thought I’d share in case this is a skill you, too, are wanting to hone.

Shut It

These friends of mine, they remind me that it’s not about having the best answer or saying the smart thing first. It’s not about having the most highly evolved toolkit because you are not there to fix anything. It’s about shutting your pie hole and listening because, let’s face it, some things are hard to say and they require some space and room to show their ugly faces. And some people—I’m not naming names…ok, me—don’t enjoy talking about their feelings as much as some of you do.

They give me words. They give me words for *fear* like good but new and words for *worry* like adjusting to better. They give me words when mine fail.

Angel of Mercy

You will forever love the person who dissipates your pain. There is no better moment than when pain is lessened. Maybe you will love them in a small, quiet way for the kindness they provided—maybe they aren’t even aware of the comfort they gave you and what it meant. When someone does this kindness for you, it gets in your bones, it becomes muscle memory. And that memory becomes a place you search out and return to whenever comfort is needed.

Kindness is Never on the Clock

These people who teach me about kindness, I have yet to see them raise a finger to ask someone to hold on for a second—or could we wrap it up…is there a shorter version…you already told me that part…I’ve never seen it happen.

They are patient. They are engaged. They are empathizing and remembering when they experienced something similar. These people with their big bags of kindness, they know that it’s an act of bravery to share how you feel. I love how they can stand with you in that moment without shaking their head and saying, “Dude…”.

They get it. Sometimes they just let me run till I’m tired like a squalling toddler, knowing this is where the moment lives—the moment when I can get out of my own way and talk about the fear or the worry that is currently batting me about the head.

I’m still amazed every time I see it happen. I feel so fortunate to say that I’ve seen it so many times, I’ve lost count.

Lucky bastard. Mary Poppins would never have said that…

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

~ Leo Buscaglia

Image: Simon Howden


  1. I loved it, thank you for reminding us all to practice our kindness muscle more often and give it the workout it deserves.
    I think I liked that Mary Poppins would never say “Lucky Bastard” best, what a perfect ending.

  2. The only thing I can think of right now sounds quite Forrest Gump-y in my mind. “Beautiful and brilliant. Uh-gain.” Love your writing and love that you help me think new thoughts. And re-think old ones. And realize that I, too, am one lucky bastard :) . Haven’t used that one before…adding to my vitae, for sure! “…accomplished author, speaker, entertainer, chocolate lover, and lucky bastard.” Even without the cool philosophical and emotional stuff (which, as you know, I L.O.V.E. more than words), I consider this a practical takeaway. :) . Seriously…fabulous piece of work (both you and the writing, of course!).

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