As you head back to school, back to interacting with hundreds of people you'd normally never interact with, I ask that you challenge yourself....
Assumptions. Don't make them. Plain and simple. No one knows what's going on beneath someone's surface - the nightmare they could be dealing with at home or what they think of themselves when they look in the mirror or the pressure they're under to do or not do XYZ.
No one knows.
Instead of looking at someone and making assumptions--when the opportunity arises--look them in the eye, truly listen to what they're saying...listen with kindness. It's quite incredible, the things you'll discover, things you never knew.
Judgement. A pitfall of judgement is only seeing a person's weight, skin tone, sexuality--label--which means you fail to see the person. Look deeper. Take a second to listen, see. Peel back the label you've smacked onto their forehead and see the human being underneath. Be open. Be kind. Force yourself to look deeper.
Try to find something in common. It's actually pretty easy if you take the time to listen and truly see the person. It's easy when you stop making assumptions. It's easy when you stop judging.
Kindness. A small act of kindness towards someone you've previously judged is one of the most powerful moments any human can have. Try it.
Hold the door. Smile. Say hi. Notice the invisible people. Notice the silently suffering.
Small acts of kindness can change your life, and they can save someone else's.
Here's to a wonderful school year.