Book Giveaway and Excerpt: A Year of Living Kindly

Dear KOM-ers! We’re so happy to feature a new book giveaway!

Please enjoy this excerpt from “A Year of Living Kindly” by Donna Cameron.

There are 2 ways to enter to win your FREE copy (hard copy for US residents only – digital copy available globally):

  1. Leave a comment below with your email (so we can contact you)
  2. Email us at KOMWriting@gmail.com with the Subject: A Year of Living Kindly giveaway entry

Winner will be randomly selected on 11/15/18 and announced on our website and social media. *

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Most of us aspire to be kind. But being kind isn’t always easy. Our best intentions often fade when the realities of daily life intrude: traffic, telemarketers, crowded spaces, time constraints and our own ineptness. Being kind when we don’t feel like it, or when all of our buttons are being pushed, is hard. But that’s also when it’s most needed.

In these pages you’ll see how a commitment to kindness will improve your life in countless ways, and ultimately can be world-changing. You’ll discover:
Why choosing kindness is good for you.
Why extending and receiving kindness is often difficult.
What the barriers are to kindness and how to overcome them.
What to do when you’re faced with unkindness and incivility.
How kindness is a strength that will bring you peace and happiness.

Want to change your life and also change the world? It begins with choosing kindness.

Excerpt from Chapter 1: Being Nice Isn’t the Same as Being Kind

Kind people go beyond what’s expected of them. They go beyond the easy response to offer the best of who they are. They do it without expectation of something in return. They do it because of who and what they are and their vision of the world they want to live in.

Most people would tell you I am a nice person. I was raised to be nice. “Be nice” was one of my mother’s frequent mantras—it was repeated along with other instructions that aimed to assure that Connie’s daughters never gave the neighbors anything to talk about and also never drew too much attention (good or bad) to themselves or to her. “Sit up straight.” “Don’t bite your nails.” “Be nice.” These were the refrains of my childhood.

My mother, while generally nice, was not especially kind. Nice allowed her to keep her distance from most people and avoid connecting or interacting at more than a superficial level. She was almost always civil, but effort and warmth were generally absent for all but the closest friends or relatives, and sometimes even then her kindness was restrained. A string of losses from early childhood on had taught her not to trust or hope for too much, or to set her sights too high. She lived with a deep regard for safety and a persistent fear of more loss. With my mother as my model, I learned to be cautious, reserved, and nice.

But some years ago, I realized that wasn’t enough. I wanted to be more than nice. I wanted to abandon lingering fears and set my sights high. I wanted to be kind. There’s just something about kind people. By their actions, or sometimes by their mere presence, they make us feel good. They give us hope for the world. To me, being kind meant knowing at the end of each day that I had helped, that I was offering the best of who I am, and that I had perhaps made a difference. And it also meant spending less time looking for threats or failings and more time recognizing abundance and compassion. I saw that my life would matter if, at its end, people said of me, “She was a kind person.” I could think of no greater eulogy. So I aspired to be kind, and frequently I was. But just as often, I was impatient, I was snarky, I was judgmental, I was indifferent or simply oblivious.

Being kind—truly kind—is hard. Nice requires little effort. I can be nice while also being indifferent, critical, and even sarcastic. But I can’t be kind and be any of those things. Being kind means caring. It means making an effort. It means thinking about the impact I’m having in an interaction with someone and endeavoring to make it rich and meaningful—giving them what they need at that exact moment, without worrying about whether I get anything in return. It means letting go of my judgments and accepting people as they are. Kindness requires me to do something my upbringing discouraged—it demands that I reach out and that I take a risk.

Nice doesn’t ask too much of us. It isn’t all that hard to be nice; in fact, it’s easy. It’s also benign. Passive. Safe. One can be nice without expending too much energy or investing too much of oneself in others. One can be nice without taking risks. Nice is holding the door, smiling at the cashier; nice may even be dropping a couple of dollars in a homeless person’s hand if we do so without looking him in the eye and saying a genuinely caring word. Kind is asking how we can help, offering our hand, jumping in without being asked, and engaging in conversation that goes beyond the superficial. All of these actions have an element of risk: we might be rebuffed, ignored, or disrespected.

Years ago, I had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Dale Turner, author, speaker, theologian, and extraordinarily kind man. He always carried with him and handed out little green cards with two simple words printed on them: “Extend Yourself.” I’ve carried that little card in my wallet and had those two words pinned beside my desk for nearly three decades. It seems to me that the phrase “Extend Yourself” captures the essence of kindness. It also highlights the difference between niceness and kindness.

A life of kindness is not something that I live only when it suits me. I’m not a kind person if I’m kind only when it’s easy or convenient. A life of kindness means being kind when it’s neither convenient nor easy—in fact, sometimes it might be terribly hard and tremendously inconvenient. That’s when it matters most. That’s when the need is greatest and transformation dances at the edge of possibility. That’s the time to take a deep breath and invite kindness to dance.

*** If you missed Donna’s interview with our Editor in Chief Lara Heacock yesterday, click here. ***

* By entering this contest, you give consent to Kind Over Matter to use your name for promotional purposes on our website and on all social media. 

DONNA CAMERON is the author of “A Year of Living Kindly.” She has spent her career working with nonprofit organizations and causes as an executive, consultant, trainer and volunteer. She has seen kindness in action and been awed by its power to transform. While she considered herself a reasonably nice person (with occasional lapses into bitchiness), she knew that true kindness was a step above. When she committed to a year of living kindly, she learned that it takes practice, patience and understanding…and a sense of humor helps, too. The recipient of multiple awards, Cameron has also published numerous articles and in 2011, coauthored “One Hill, Many Voices: Stories of Hope and Healing” with Kristen Leathers. Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cameron and her husband now live in a suburb of Seattle. You can follow Donna on her website, Facebook or Twitter.

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