If there was one phrase I could erase from our culture's vocabulary, "random acts of kindness" would be it.
I'm not anti-kindness – far from it. What I am against is greed and selfishness dressed up in nice sounding words – and that is exactly what this concept is.
When you dig beyond the surface, what "random acts of kindness" really means is, "I'm okay with being selfish most of the time, but I'm randomly going to be nice and then go back to me me me." Loving randomly rather than consistently is selfish and still a "me first" attitude.
Consistent acts of kindness trump random acts of kindness. Random acts of kindness are the easy out. Consistent acts of kindness are tough because they require choosing to be selfless over selfish on an ongoing basis. If I've learned anything in life it's that the tougher route is almost always the better route and the one worth taking.
Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, a day devoted to being generous to those we love, a day focused on putting others ahead of ourselves. And really, when it comes down to it, that's what love is all about. My hope is that tomorrow's holiday serves as a springboard for finding a way to help lighten the load for others on an ongoing basis. My hope is that we choose to commit to adding good things to the lives of those around us through intentional, purposeful, and consistent kindness.
Almost everyone I know had some variation of "be a better person" as a New Year's resolution. The bottom line is that if we are growing as people, then we are becoming more generous. It is impossible to operate from a place of true joy or true love without growing in generosity. It is simply impossible. Joy and stinginess cannot coexist.
Seeing the world become a better place starts with becoming better people. Generosity and Valentine's Day go hand in hand. How can you share the love today, this week, next week, next month? How can we move from loving randomly to loving consistently?
Originally published February 2011