Get this, my friend Desiree has a word for each year. The word represents what she wants to be, do, or cultivate in this world during those twelve months. Over lunch at the end of 2011 as she talked about her plans for breakthroughs in 2012, I determined to come up with a word for myself for 2012.
I thought about this for days and weeks. I vacillated between thinking about it and letting it come to me naturally.
I finally settled on a word during the last days of December: Kindness. I will speak it. I will spread it. I will act it. I will feel it.
It seemed almost too simple, and yet its essence is so powerful. It just kept coming back to me, again and again.
As I played it out in my head it represents how I want to be in the world. I reasoned that if I acted with kindness at the forefront of my decision making then I can make a difference.
I told friends, and they razzed me a bit. They think it will be easy. They asked, fairly, if this will stretch me and if it will be a challenge for me.
At the same gathering I heard of another woman who used “why the hell not” as her mantra for 2011 and planned to use “step it up” as a focal point for change in 2012.
I began to feel like my little commitment to kindness was meager and without courage. Do I need a powerful word to represent my place in this world and set my stage for 2012? I toyed with “unabashed” because it seemed to capture boldness and shamelessness (after all, you serve no one by playing small, to paraphrase Marianne Williamson), but the word is clunky. And I think that kindness still fills the niche. If I speak boldly and fully embody myself in my words and actions, I am kind to myself. If I ensure my words and deeds consider others as much as myself, then that is also kind.
It’s almost two weeks in to 2012 and I do think having a word helps. I have given more pause in the space before I speak and act, to try harder to bring kindness into my interactions.
It seems small, but I hope the effect will be large.