The Kindness Tin Can

Change Your Heart By Taking The Focus Off YOU!

“Mom, I hate them.”

“Them” being her friends at school.

This is what my 7-year-old confided to me as I was putting her to bed the other night.

I could have made light of her hatred, like I’ve done when she tells me she hates broccoli.

I could have gotten caught up in her anger: “Who are these kids upsetting my daughter!?”

Instead, I asked her what was going on that her heart hurt so much.

Because under anger is usually hurt.

Sure enough, the tears came pouring out as she told me about how her best friend only wanted to play with another girl, and how when she went to find others to play with they told her to go away. This had been happening all week.

“Why doesn’t anybody like me?”

I didn’t have an answer for that, but I did have a thought:

It’s time for the Kind Can.

Suddenly I was 8 years old again, a grade 3 student who was having a rough start to the school year. I had a teacher I didn’t like, friendships had shifted, and I couldn’t seem to get along with anyone. I hated going to school.

My mom created a Kind Can.

She used a big Nescafe tin can (remember those?)

In the can went the names of every single one of my classmates. Each morning before school I would pull a name out of the can. That day I had to go out of my way to do something kind for them.

Not to have them do something in return.

For no other reason than to do something kind.

It wasn’t easy at first, but my mom encouraged me to keep trying, and helped me think of all the different ways I could show kindness to others.

It started to get really fun!

And then things shifted.

No longer caught up in my own mind about what others were ‘doing to me’, I was now focused on what I was doing for others.

Though there were no expectations of kindness in return, more and more kindness is what I got.

I loved going to school!

I told my daughter about the Kind Can and her eyes got that little spark – the one that tells me she’s about to get creative.

So yes, she has big plans for just how fancy this can will be – much better than an old tin can she proclaimed! That’s our project.

A Kind Can.

A way to create more kindness.

A way to keep our hearts open even when they want to close.

By Sasha Nieukerk-Chomo

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