The Dalai Lama, a spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, wrote, “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
A life full of kindness. What beautiful words and what an inspiring goal! Yet how do we incorporate this concept into our busy lives? Here are three books about doing just that.
‘Kind Is the New Classy: The Power of Living Graciously’ by Candace Cameron Bure
“The world has a way of defining you if you don’t know who you are before you get out there.” —Candace Cameron Bure
Candace Cameron Bure is an American actress, author, and talk show panelist. In her latest book, Bure’s emphasis is on showing people that they matter. She strives to give people the gift of respect to others and themselves. She does this, not in a preachy way, but in quite a classy way by using examples from her life to show how this can be accomplished.
She is a religious person and lives her religion daily. Her book is geared to adult women, but I feel anyone can benefit from reading it.
In each chapter Bure gives her thoughts about kindness and examples of how she follows her own advice. Here is a quick summary of each chapter.
1. “Kindness knows its purpose.” Don’t make decisions that go against your conscience.
2. “Kindness keeps its cool even in the hot topics.” Especially when dealing with controversial topics, spread love, not hate.
3. “Kindness recognizes the image of God in all people.” Bure uses an old maxim here: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
4. “Kindness gets ambitious for the good of others.” Challenge others to be their finest.
5. “Kindness practices healthy self-care.” Take care of your body.
6. “Kindness takes responsibility for its choices and actions.” If we’re ruled by feelings, Bure feels that we start to make decisions based on not how we feel, but how we feel in the moment.
7. “Kindness opens its door and life to others.” Bure talks about getting creative about hospitality.
8. “Kindness Steps Forward in Confidence For What’s Right.” Stand up for what is right.
9. “Kindness Works to Cultivate Meaningful Relationships.” Be deliberate about making friendships that will help you to grow.
10. “Kindness Starts Small and Trusts Every Action Matters.” Kindness usually starts small and it grows from there.
‘I Walk With Vanessa’ by Kerascoët
Sometimes books about kindness can be too preachy. This book is not; it is wordless. Since there is no text to relay a message or to tell the story, children read their own meaning into it. Great care and detail in the expressions of each character help to get the ideas across. My only objection to this book is that the words in the bullet points at the end of the book cover only bullying and not kindness overall.
Here is the story. It is Vanessa’s first day at a new school but no one really seems to care. The teacher introduces her to the class, but after that, there is no attempt to include her in discussions, make her part of the fun in gym, and or to walk with her as she makes her way home. Indeed, most of the children seem more intent on looking at a squirrel in a tree than stopping to help Vanessa as she deals with a bully. After that Vanessa cries and runs into her house.
One kind girl, though, does notice and tells the others. That night both girls are shown awake and looking very despondent.
The next day this kind girl is shown eating breakfast, and she gets a great idea. She races over to Vanessa’s house and joining hands with her, starts walking towards the school. A few more children join them, and then more and more. In the end it looks like the entire school is walking with Vanessa.
This book so embodies the lyrics from the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Gerry and the Pacemakers. When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark … a simply wonderful idea!
‘Be Kind’ by Pat Zielow Miller
This book is a way to teach children to think beyond themselves and see the needs of other people. It also shows that kind deeds can reverberate throughout the world.
Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress. Everyone laughs except one child, who is the narrator of this story. The child tells Tanisha that purple is her favorite color. Tanisha doesn’t respond as expected and runs out into the hall. She returns later with an art smock on. This gets the child thinking of other ways that she might have responded to Tanisha.
Then the child’s mind starts wandering. The child begins thinking of other kind deeds to do. The child starts with basic things that a child can easily do, such as baking cookies for Mr. Rinaldi, giving away her too tight shoes, and helping with the cleaning. The child progresses to thinking about getting people in the town to do small deeds together, to traveling around the country with others to be kind, to going around the world. Then the child stops imagining and returns to reality in art class. The child makes a picture with purple flowers on it to show empathy. Later Tanisha hangs it up in her room. A simple act of kindness has a tremendous impact.