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World Kindness Day reminds us to give others 'space and grace'

Guest Editorial
Sue Abderholden, director, Minnesota chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness

World Kindness Day was Nov.13, a day that more than ever before needs recognition.
Here at NAMI Minnesota, we’ve been promoting “Space and grace,” to give others space to err, to be upset or mad. It means giving others grace so that our response to them is not filled with anger or frustration.
When we respond with grace and space, we actually feel better – because we have responded with kindness.
Grace and space also apply to us as individuals — reminders that we’re not perfect, that we make mistakes, that we aren’t always at our best. It’s accepting ourselves as who we are and loving ourselves unconditionally and that we will do better next time.
The Greek Author Aesop wrote, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
After a tough two and a half years, we need more acts of kindness toward individuals and our greater communities. We can make a difference to one person, and for the greater good.
This year the theme of World Kindness Day 2022 was “Be Kind Whenever Possible.”  It’s taken from the Dalai Lama who adds, “It is always possible.”
So, what is possible? Focus on individuals. Send a kind note to someone. Bring someone who is struggling a meal or rake their leaves. Ask the cashier, clerk or waitperson how they are doing, thank them for their work – especially if you can see that place is understaffed. Bring items to a food shelf, donate blood, place a book in a free library, etc. 
So, what is possible? Focus on the greater community. Encourage elected officials to fund important programs that bring people together or support them living in the community.
It could be funding youth programs at the park, arts in the schools, in-home support for people with disabilities or programs serving children and adults with mental illnesses. Donate to a nonprofit that does good work.
The important thing is to do something to make our communities a little kinder. Stop and think before posting a mean meme on social media, yelling at someone who cut you off on the freeway, or being impatient with a person struggling to pay for their groceries.
We control how we respond, and if we respond with grace and space, and show kindness to others, we will feel better too.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a non-profit organization working to improve the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families through education, support and advocacy.

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