I am embarrassed to say that I have not always been kind.

I have been that person at the other end of the phone with a customer service representative (my cell phone company, cable provider, or what have you) and became not only unkind but rude or abusive. I have, in the past, been unkind to people at my former workplaces. I have been unkind about some of my colleagues.

I am now more mindful of being kind.

Being kind is about being friendly, generous and considerate.

Being kind is an asset. It is an asset not only to ourselves but is an asset to those around us. Kindness is also contagious. When we are kind, it spreads. It makes us happier and is contagious.

Making an effort by connecting and being friendly with the cashier while buying our groceries can be about being kind rather than just being polite. When we are standing in a line-up, we can be kind to those around us, rather than just polite.

We all have the power to be kind. Being kind is also about being generous.

A couple of years ago my then 11-year old daughter, while with some friends, had come across a homeless person’s stash of a tent and personal belongings in our local park. It frightened her. She expressed fear of the person whose belongings it could have been. She was worried that this particular person would be violent or scary.

While I don’t think it is okay for my daughter to have interactions with people she does not know in parks, I also do not want her to have any predisposed ideas about people in our community who are homeless or about those that struggle with poverty.

A few days later, at my suggestion, she made some sandwiches. Then we walked around our downtown area handing them out to homeless people. I was with her, but she did the talking. With each person, she approached she said, “I have made a homemade ham and cheese sandwich, would you like one?”

In response to her kindness, each person we approached responded with not only gratitude but with grace. With each delivery of a sandwich, there was an exchange of the heart from my daughter to the recipient, and from the recipient back to my daughter. It was profoundly beautiful.

My daughter and I set out that afternoon with the intention of sharing our generosity. What we got was kindness and generosity in return.

By Val Hemminger