Kindness, in the basic sense, is caring about other people’s feelings. How do my actions or words affect someone else? Being conscious of this.
How can I make someone else feel good?
In college I was doing an acting exercise with a mentor, where we walked around the room, and he would say an image that we were to imagine in a “center” (head, heart, core, base.) “Melted butter” in my “heart center” is the best way I can describe how kindness feels to me.
Spreading kindness by helping others feel like their best selves helps me to feel like my best self. It helps me to be a better human. This “growing to be a better human” process never ends, and I find beauty in that.
Kindness is a practice, like yoga. Practicing kindness means being cognizant of how others feel, and allowing your presence to lift them up, or at the very least, not tear them down. Kindness is recognizing “what do I need to feel better right now?” and acting on that while doing the same for others.
Kindness should not be confused with toxic positivity. Kindness is honest, whereas toxic positivity covers up the natural, human emotions that are normal to feel. Toxic positivity are comments like “it could be worse,” or “try to think on the bright side, at least you ____...” Kindness acknowledges these emotions, and says “hey, it’s okay to feel that way. Those feelings are real and you are real.” Kindness is “yes, and…” “Yes, you feel those emotions, and you can move mountains.”
In 2018, my grandma and I were sitting at her kitchen table in Albany, NY discussing how the world around us was becoming unrecognizable and frightening. At the same time, I was struggling with a very transitional period of my life. We decided there, at her kitchen table that instead of fearing the darkness in the world and the future, we should spread kindness in the simplest form we could.
My grandma, a painter, often used rocks as a canvas, so we thought they would make a perfect vehicle to carry kindness. We went rock hunting in her backyard, and spent the afternoon painting away. By spending the afternoon together- painting, listening to music, talking, and laughing, we created miniature pieces of art to spread messages of kindness. Our rocks carry messages like "you are enough," "you can move mountains," "smile more, worry less," and so on.
Fast forward almost two years, I've painted rocks and spread them all over the world. From my grandma's house, to my Harlem apartment, to Summer Stock in Missouri, and on tour. These rocks have traveled across states, countries, and now continents. I've become notorious for saying, "hey, you wanna come over and paint rocks?" I found out later that the #kindnessrockmovement existed before my grandma and I thought of it, but we like to think of ours are unique. I've been fortunate enough to find some that were not painted by me and my "kindness crew," and that's always exciting!
Find a rock, pick it up, paint kindness, pass it on or plant it somewhere to be found! Write #spreadingkindnessrocks on the back so people can track the rock's journey.