As we start a new year, we typically hope it will be a good one. In my humble opinion, one way to make it a good year is to focus on our own expressions of genuine kindness.
Kindness is a big word. Its synonyms provide a little insight into the vast nature of kindness.
One who is compassionate expresses a propensity for sympathy & mercy.
Benevolence implies altruism, a charitable nature, the tendency to be looking out for others more than oneself, & a stalwart commitment to doing good.
One who is benign is gentle & mild.
A gracious person exudes a kind warmth, a courteous elegance, & shows a propensity for tact, charm, & good taste.
Someone who is thoughtful is contemplative & encourages the well-being & happiness of others.
Those who have an innately kind disposition or character are said to be kindhearted or kindly.
One who is courteous shows gracious consideration toward others & displays good manners & etiquette.
One who is sympathetic shows a susceptibility to the feelings of others & sometimes an altruism inspired by that susceptibility.
One who is empathetic has the capacity to understand others’ points of view & can strongly identify with another’s situation & emotions.
Here’s to the new year. May we fill with all the many facets of kindness.
Big thanks to this week’s sources Thesaurus.com, The 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary, Wordnik, Merriam-Webster & the OED
Mary Penney’s middle grade novel, Eleven and Holding got me thinking about benevolence. It wouldn’t be fair to say the book is about benevolence, but it features some secondary characters whose benevolence truly shines.
As does the author’s.
Mary is one of those quiet people out in the world doing good things. She doesn’t need people to know she’s doing good, she just does it.
Mary would like to grow up to be a philanthropist (insert laughter from anyone with intimate knowledge of a children’s author’s salary here). She makes the point that if one has goals, one needs to practice. And how does an up-and-coming philanthropist with a small income practice? By giving in small bits. So Mary gives. In everyday little ways, in offering conference scholarships to authors, in helping veterans, in sprinkling kindness here & there, & in writing books that offer hope & bring smiles to kids’ faces.
Mary is a poster-child for benevolence, a word which appeared in English in 1400, through Old French from the Latin word benevolentia. The bene- part of the word means good or well, while the –volentia means to wish. A person who is benevolent is spending his/her time & thoughts wishing others well.
If you’ve been watching or reading a lot of news these days, you could probably use a reminder that benevolence happens. You’d probably benefit from spending time with good people wishing others well, perhaps giving in small bits. If so, you might want to read Mary Penney’s middle grade novel, Eleven and Holding (HarperCollins, 2016).
And if you’ve got a bit of time, how about clicking on comments button at the top of the post & recounting a benevolent act you recently encountered?
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Etymonline, Wordnik, Collins Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, & the OED.
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.