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Growing Kindness with Yeses

There are so many self-help books out there that teach people to say “no,” to draw boundaries, to claim their space, and stick with it. What if kindness resides in the “yeses” and not the “noes?” What if with each “yes,” we are showing others that we are willing to carve time into our day to sit with them, to listen to them, and to share some insight with them. What if we grow with every yes? A new possibility unfolds and we allow ourselves to change according to that moment?

What if, kindness is simply the ability to live in each moment and consciously choose to shape that moment through acts that would benefit another? I’m not suggesting saying “yes” to every request. On the contrary, saying “yes” must be a deliberate, thought out move. One must know why they are saying yes, and what ripples arise due to that yes.

Recently, my 75-year-old mother needed me to take her to the DMV to renew her license. I didn’t know until the moment arose that elderly need to renew expiring licenses by retaking and passing the written portion of the DMV test. Saying “yes” to parent is a no-brainer for most, we do it because we have to. But, wanting to do it and needing to do it are two different beasts.

I took her because I felt obliged to do so. I took her as an Uber driver would drive a stranger. She sat beside me in the car, a ball of nerves. We got through the appointment line relatively quickly. She went from window to window, getting her eyes checked and getting her picture taken. At the end of the third hour, she walked out of the testing room downcast.

“I didn’t pass, maybe I shouldn’t have even tried. Maybe, I’m supposed to just given up. What was I thinking?”

Her words translated into pain as I saw her wilt and age. I realized that I had been sitting in the DMV office mentally checking off everything I could have gotten done that day and hadn’t: bills, banking, laundry… But I hadn’t offered my mother my greatest asset: my attention and love.

I took her home that afternoon trying not to choke on that day’s stressors. I made myself a cup of tea and sat in my kitchen, meditating. I chewed on my lower lip as realization settled in. Renewing her license was like offering her a sip from the fountain of youth. It provided her evidence that she still had it!

Thirty minutes later, I picked up the phone and called her. “Mom, tomorrow morning, I’m going to pick you up at 7:30 am. We’ll drop off the kids at their schools and I’ll take you to the DMV again.”

“What? Without an appointment? No! I couldn’t waste another one of your days like that. I don’t need a license. I can use the public transit. I don’t think we should…”

“It’s going to be different this time mom, you are going to walk in there confidently. You are going to tell yourself that you are going to pass. You aren’t going to doubt yourself, you aren’t going to change your answers. You are going to breathe deeply and you are going to pass!”

She did not argue for long. And sure enough, the next day brought with it a different tide. I sat beside her in in the DMV office, one of my hands rested warmly over hers.  Repeat after me, I whispered, “I can do this.
I know the answers. I am not going to doubt myself.”

She repeated, “I can do this, I know the answers. I’m not going to doubt myself.”  

Sure enough, when she finally walked into the testing room to take her test, the results were insanely different. She passed and the only thing that had changed was our mindsets. I had chosen to say “yes” instead of “no.”

We impact others more than we think. Each day, each choice, each decision we make impacts the next and it is in the kind actions, the ones we say “yes” to that allow for serendipitous moments to blossom.

So, I ask you now to try two things- one, be wary of what it is you are saying “yes” or “no” to for each yes and each no will bring with it a different reality. It is through the “yeses” and your deliberate kind actions that kindness is spread.

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