The other day while standing in line at Target, I watched a woman yell at her young son. She sounded scary and angry even to me, so I can't imagine how the little guy felt.
So when he looked up at me, I gave him a little wave and a smile.
He didn't respond, he just looked at me and I continued to smile.
I hoped to offer a "the universe is a friendly place" moment.
And if his mom would have turned to look at me, I would have smiled at her, too.
Because giving her a dirty look or being angry at her doesn't help. Leaving the store and telling everybody about the "mean mom" at Target doesn't help.
I can bring something different than that. I can offer her something she isn't offering herself.
And being kind can be healing. Being kind can make a change. Being kind can shift the perspective of the person who receives the kindness.
It's not always easy, but being kind is always an option.
We throw around, "be the change you want to see in the world", but do we really do this?
Do we believe that yelling at someone we don't know, or screaming at our kids when they don't listen, or flipping off someone who took our parking place makes the world a better place?
This just feeds more of the same. These actions actually send out more anger and frustration, causing the world to feel more uncomfortable and unsettled.
When I suggest kindness over anger, people often disagree and share their story of how someone did them wrong, or how they were screamed at, or how they were disrespected first.
I get it, and I understand the pain and discomfort it brings. But if we bring anger to anger all we get is more anger.
Instead, how about a decision to offer something different; to actually embrace the golden rule and treat others the way we want to be treated?
Don't give in to the belief that the world is falling apart and fall apart with it. Believe in something better, think out of the box and create something better in your day-to-day experiences.
Be like Ryan Garcia, a Chicago guy who committed to doing 366 acts of kindness this year in honor of his first child being born.
I recently watched this video of Ryan offering free hugs on the streets of Chicago and watched a woman actually jump out of a car to take him up on his offer.
We are all longing for hugs, closeness, and love. We are all longing to be seen, heard and validated. We are aching for more random acts of kindness.
So instead of offering more hurt, let's choose healing.
And instead of looking to other people to make a change, let's start making some changes of our own, one decision at a time.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.