By Karon Warren | Photography provided by David Friedman
National Random Acts of Kindness Day approaches on Feb. 17, and author David Friedman believes we should take a more deliberate—and daily—approach to showing kindness to others.
Originated in New Zealand, National Random Acts of Kindness Day continues to grow in popularity each year, with individuals, groups and corporations joining in to celebrate and encourage kindness by others all over the world. While highlighting kindness on a national level for one day is a great thing, Friedman hopes to inspire others to take a conscious and deliberate approach to show kindness day in and day out.
A songwriter, composer and producer of Broadway shows, Disney animated features, television scores, and more, the author wrote “We Can Be Kind: Healing Our World One Kindness at a Time” by breaking down the lines in his hit song, “We Can Be Kind.”
“When my editor, Brenda Knight, came to me and asked me for an idea for my next book, the idea popped into my mind to take the lyric of this song, use each line as a chapter title, and include anecdotes and essays on the topic, as well as suggestions as to how we can be kind, not only to others, but, perhaps more importantly, to ourselves,” Friedman said.
The idea definitely seemed to click for Friedman, who wrote the book in just a couple of weeks. As the author said, each chapter features personal stories from Friedman’s own life as well as related tales and observations from day-to-day life.
Throughout the book, he focuses on how we should start by being kind to ourselves, something many of us neglect to do. In fact, each chapter features a “We Can Be Kind to Ourselves” section that outlines ways for us to start showing kindness to ourselves. For example, he recommends that we stop fighting against those things we can’t control and instead accept it for what it is and see where it goes. Another recommendation is to experience things in the moment rather than worrying about what the future may bring.
Friedman also offers suggestions on how we each can not only incorporate more kindness into our lives but also to change our mindset regarding kindness. For instance, in Chapter 8, “We Can Be Kind,” he shares a story of financial difficulty, expressing his frustration in trying to modify a second mortgage. A friend referred him to yet another bank employee to help him with his loan.
In doing so, his friend told Friedman to “always be delightful, charming, upbeat and pleasant.” Or, as Friedman phrased it, “Always be kind.” He followed that advice, and, in due time, was able to achieve a desirable result. The lesson learned? “Kindness is a choice that we can make no matter what is happening, no matter how helpless we feel, no matter how hopeless the situation seems,” Friedman wrote.
In Chapter 20, “If We Always Remember, We Can Be Kind,” the author acknowledges that showing kindness to others, especially when the circumstances are difficult, is not an easy choice to make. In fact, he goes on to provide three steps for practicing kindness in the world: “1) Choose kindness 2) Choose kindness 3) Choose kindness.” Simply put, choosing kindness requires making a deliberate choice again and again.
Giving the current climate of today’s world, making the choice to be kind is more important than ever, Friedman said.
“We are living in divisive times where people are often being anything but kind to each other, and we’re seeing the negative results all over the place,” he said. “I choose to think that all this is going on now for a positive purpose: to teach us the lessons that we need to learn by revealing resentments and prejudices that have been festering under the surface for years. For this reason, it is more important than ever to have the needed remedies readily available, so I’m glad to have this book to offer at this time.”
Friedman hopes readers will realize that showing kindness to others is not merely for the recipients’ benefit, but instead primarily for the benefit of those being kind.