When it came time to bless my daughter, Amelia, there was so much I wanted to include in her blessing. As I pondered beforehand about what to say, I felt that I should bless her to grow up healthy and strong. I also felt inspired to bless her that her life would be centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As I stood in the circle in sacrament meeting and began to bless my little daughter, I shared all these things and other spiritual impressions. Then suddenly, I felt prompted to add something. I was surprised by how strongly this prompting came to me.
With Amelia in my arms, I said, “At times, people will be unkind to you, but I bless you that you will follow the Savior’s example and always be kind.”
I have thought a lot about this part of Amelia’s blessing since then. I’ve realized that kindness isn’t something I wish only for my daughter. Kindness is something the whole world needs. It often seems that harshness and thoughtlessness are everywhere, but here are a few ways we can make the world around us a little kinder.
Look at a recent newsfeed and it won’t take long for you to see people being unkind to one another. Some regard those with a different point of view as naive, mistaken, or even evil. They act like there’s no room for differing opinions, and respecting other perspectives is often seen as weakness. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, said: “Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable.”1
Being kind regardless of our opinions can help us look for the best in one another and feel more connected.
President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, once said, “Like the small flecks of gold that accumulate over time into a large treasure, our small and simple acts of kindness and service will accumulate into a life filled with love for Heavenly Father, devotion to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a sense of peace and joy each time we reach out to one another.”2
A home filled with kindness is a place of love, compassion, and warmth. During the challenges of life, kindness also brings families feelings of reassurance, understanding, and caring. It improves family relationships and is essential if we want to create a peaceful and loving home.
When those around us do things that upset us, we can still choose to be patient with and kind to them, in the same way we would like them to treat us. We can also choose to be kind when those we love and care about turn away from the things that our Heavenly Father would have us do.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said our duty “is to love God and love [our] neighbors.” If we do, “God will work miracles through [us] to bless His precious children.”3
We also need to be kind to ourselves. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “As children of God, we should not demean or vilify ourselves, as if beating up on ourselves is somehow going to make us the person God wants us to become.”4 Everyone deserves patience and kindness, and that includes you.
At times, people will treat us with unkindness. When that happens, as hard as it may be, we need to strive to be kind anyway.
The Savior taught, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
This doesn’t mean we allow others to walk all over us like a doormat—it’s always important to maintain healthy boundaries. But we should try to treat each person as a child of Heavenly Father, and we should remember that everyone has challenges, many that we can’t see.
By reaching out in kindness and serving those who are unkind, you may help them change. But even if they don’t, showing kindness will make a difference for you. Choosing to be kind frees you from dwelling on the unkindness of others. It also allows you to find ways to help those around you and experience happiness along the way.
There are many ways to learn to be kinder, but the best way is to look to the Savior and follow His example.
He showed kindness in all that He said and did. If we look outside ourselves and act in kindness, even toward those who are unkind, we can help in our own small way to change the world for the better.
As we emulate the Savior and turn our hearts outward, we will find opportunities to reach out to people who need it. And in serving others, we will draw closer to the Savior and increase in love and kindness even more. Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “As we look through a gospel lens, we recognize that we too are under the watchcare of a compassionate caregiver, who extends Himself in kindness and a nurturing spirit.”5
So I invite you, along with Amelia, to spread a little kindness and make a difference in someone’s day! As President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) once said, “Miracle[s] can happen and will happen when there is kindness, respect, and love.”6