Word(s) of the Year: Be Kind

Forgive me for being unfashionably late to the party – I realize the “word-of-the-year” idea has been trending for over a decade now. I did latch on to the concept once, with mediocre enthusiasm/success, when I picked the word “Simplify” back in 2015ish. We were a family of four living in a very small apartment that had to serve as our home office, living spaces, and a storage facility for some large work equipment. To say it felt cramped is like saying you might feel a bit damp in the middle of a tsunami.

But I think having that word prompt did have some impact: I wrote it on the outside of my planner that year and would get periodic nudges to say “no” to a commitment or to downsize a particular storage tote. In subsequent years I’ve more fully embraced many of the tenants of minimalism and, in general, aim to keep life as simple as possible (this is often easier said than done).

All that to say: I didn’t feel any external pressure to participate in this sort of thing (I’ve written before about all the “good” things I don’t have to do and this certainly falls into that category), but couldn’t help shake my idea once it lodged itself inside my weary-from-pandemic-life grey matter.

Drumroll…

My word(s)/motto for 2022 is/are: Be Kind.

WHY BE KIND?

Well, first, why not? Growing up in Sunday School, the Golden Rule was one of the earliest lessons I remember hearing and it certainly bears repeating in our current global milieu. Somehow it can feel harder to live like Jesus as we get older, but those early lessons are no less important.

More specifically? Because I know I have a long way to go in this regard.

I recently got the chance to discuss an anxiety-producing social situation with a very patient and dear friend. I was afraid of how I was being perceived (perhaps justifiably so) in a complicated situation with many moving parts and considerations. At the end of an impassioned speech that left me questioning my motives and capacity for kindness, my friend (very kindly) told me that I was one of the kindest people she knew.

She does know a lot of people…but I’m not convinced.

Because I know myself.

Because I know the (usually unwarranted) glares I give my kids that could melt ice. And I want them to remember me smiling, not glaring.

Because I know the times I’ve modified my walking route to avoid talking to a specific person – someone that I know is looking for friendship.

Because in 2022 I want to be kinder:

  1. Kinder to the kids (with my words and my eyes). Enough said.
  2. Kinder to my spouse. He is my best friend in all the world, but I can be an absolutely terrible nag sometimes (maybe a lot of the time?!) and have a tendancy to “lecture.” I really want to get better about this negative habit.
  3. Kinder to my friends. I have the annoying habit of interrupting other people mid-sentence. I keep telling myself to reign it in, but seem to fail miserably. Hopefully a reminder to “Be kind” will prompt me in this direction.
  4. Kinder to strangers. (I need to smile more, though that can be tricky with everyone wearing masks; side note – when a lady behind me in line complimented me on my earrings a month ago, it MADE MY DAY. I feel so hidden when out in public which, as an introvert, I actually like to a certain extent, but that kindness from a friendly stranger who was standing 6 feet away felt so refreshing).
  5. Kinder to myself. I am going to glare and lecture and interrupt. A lot of the time I’ve been too rigid and have expected too much from myself. I’m hoping, in some areas of life at least, that by asking less from myself, I might – paradoxically enough – manage to do more? Do more things I enjoy, be more productive, explore creative passions…be kinder to those I love.

So that’s where I’m at – looking quasi-optimistically ahead to 2022 with a vision to be kind(er).


If you participate in the one-word annual theme, what did you pick this year? I really like Tobia’s choice of “Celebrate.” How whimsical and…celebratory!

Header photo by Dee @ Copper and Wild on Unsplash

19 thoughts on “Word(s) of the Year: Be Kind”

  1. I love this so, so much. I especially love your story about the earrings, because it shows us how much power we have- one kind comment can make someone’s day. And it hardly takes any effort on our part. I don’t usually choose a word for the year (although I did this year) but “Be Kind” is going to be my mantra, starting today. I’m going to think about it throughout the day, with every encounter I have. I’ll report back on how that worked out- but I suspect it’s going to be amazing.

    1. Aww. I felt a bit silly even posting this because it feels…a bit amateur? And also…hard. But once I thought of it, I just couldn’t shake the feeling. I know it will be a work in progress (especially in the upcoming days of online learning!), but feels nice to have a general framework for behaviour.

      Can’t wait to hear an update and hope it gave some extra lightness to your day and to those around you.

  2. This is SUCH a great way to approach the world. No matter how kind we are or try to be, we can always be kindER. Love this for you and hope it helps set a wonderful tone for your year.

    (I did a word of the year for the first time last year — FORWARD — and this year I am still mulling over what my word should be.)

    1. I’m definitely hoping for a “wonderful tone.” Hearing that school is moving online has definitely made me pretty grumpy today. I haven’t been mean yet…but I’m not feeling overly jolly. Sigh.

  3. Kindness is underrated. Congratulations of finding such an important thing to work on!

    (Also, why is so hard to be kind to yourself? I find it relatively easy to give most people the benefit of the doubt – most people aren’t jerks, they’re having bad days/feeling ill/stuck in a bad situation – but I always think the worst things about myself instead of giving myself the benefit of the doubt, too!)

    1. It is definitely important; here’s hoping I feel like I make real progress on this. It’s definitely a “value” not a goal, because there will always be room for growth in this department.

  4. Great plan! I know we’ve discussed already on other comment threads, but just going to say once again, this sounds like the perfect goal for you for your current state of mind/ vibes/ feelings! I especially like how you are spreading it to encompass all sorts of kindness, including yourself, not just “be nice to others” in a very simple sense. I think I’ve finally landed on my word, too. Maybe I’ll write about it tomorrow if I have time. 🙂

  5. I love this word!!! that’s not just my word for 2022 but for the rest of my life. I don’t think I’m a kind person, rather neutral, but as I get older, the more I realize it’s more important to be kind than be right. I’d love to learn to be kinder to everybody around me, not to make the world better but also to feel better too. And most importantly model to the kids how important is for them and for others to practice kindness. LOVE LOVE LOVE your chosen word.

  6. You can never go wrong with “be kind”. If everyone made an effort to be more kind, the world would be a different place (that’s not to say that the occasional glare or lecture is a bad thing – it happens to all of us ;))

  7. I think kindness is a great word to focus on! I try to be kind to everyone, even those who do not deserve it. Ironically, the “undeserving” ones are really the ones who need it most. That said, being kind is tough. Really tough.

  8. I have room for improvement on kindness, too. I have been really overwhelmed and overtired lately and more prone to get pissy with Paul and my husband. And to get really frustrated during the night when the baby won’t sleep. I wish it was easier to choose kindness instead of frustration. But I also need to be kind to myself over the fact that it’s hard to be kind at times? How meta is that? 😉

    I haven’t done the word of the year for a long time, but I think I am going to this year and my work will be ‘connection.’ I’m off social media right now, which was my main way of connecting with family and friends. But it wasn’t high quality? So my goal is to continue to stay off, but be more intentional about reaching out to people for a phone call or FaceTime to catch up. We’ll see how that goes. I also feel like the first year of parenting adds to a feeling of isolation, especially in the era of Covid when getting together is harder. I’m still feeling pretty overwhelmed but things should be getting better now that Will has tubes (see today’s update!!)

    1. Yay for tubes. I’m hoping (and expecting) you’ll see major improvements with sleep quality and ear infections. Fingers crossed – you all deserve a break.
      I think “connection” is just a great word.
      Agreed about kindness being so important, but also so, so hard. And there is definitely a balance between being kind/selfless and realizing that there are so many times – especially as mothers – that we really do have to put our own oxygen masks on first!

  9. Yessss. I love this so much. I could work on being kinder, too, and just giving someone a compliment in public. I know how much it makes my day and makes me feel connected to the outside world when someone gives me a nice compliment, and I want to try harder to do the same for others. My humor tendency falls to sarcasm, which can get biting and, well, a bit mean at times, and I want to work hard to limit that because I don’t want to come across as mean!

    1. Compliments really do go a LONG way. The littlest thing can really make someone’s day and I think so often how I have a compliment in mind but hold back giving it? Why! I’m sincere and think it…I just need to go ahead and say it!

  10. Thank you so much for your shout out. It only took me 10 days to read your post. Still catching up on all my reading.

    As I said before I do love your choice of word and probably because my 2021 word Grace is so similar and it gave me such joy and made me stop and think more than a few times. I am wishing you a lot of smiles instead of glares, more kindness towards yourself and the people around you.

    If you like to work on your listening skills – and I can relate so much here – I may recommend the following book: The Lost Art of Listening by Dr. Michael P. Nichols. I’ve written a review and shared my learnings here: https://www.craftaliciousme.com/becoming-a-better-listener-and-how-i-am-working-towards-this-goal/
    However it is a work in progress and I could be much better.

    I am looking forward seeing all the ways you incorporate kindness.

    1. Thanks for the book suggestion! Definitely a work in progress…but I’m more aware of my tendency to interrupt and am trying to take active steps to become better at listening – not only with friends/adults, but also with the kids.

  11. I love this. And I love the earring story!
    As you now (finally) know, my intentions for the year are Be Kind and Seek Joy. To me, they go hand in hand, because being kind (as in, performing concrete acts of kindness) just brings on a frisson of joy for me. I try to do something purposeful each day that involves Being Kind, and for me, this has really helped.
    I’m so looking forward to seeing how this evolves for you over the course of the year! I bet you’ll find so many opportunities in your daily life. 🙂

    1. We really DO have a lot in common because in addition to “Be Kind” I’m also working hard at finding joy.
      And, agreed – they really do go hand-in-hand.

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