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This baby boomer’s got one word for 2017

January 2, 2017

Last year, I adopted the one-word approach to New Year’s resolutions. Instead of compiling a list of things to achieve, the idea is to choose one word to inspire your actions all year long. Proponents say this focus helps inform your goals and provides clarity about how you want to live your life.

My word last year was “mindful.” I have to admit that my success at integrating greater mindfulness into my life was modest, at best. Mostly, I became more aware of how mindful I was not being at any given moment. Which, when you think about it, is a form of mindfulness, right? So maybe I was more successful than I thought.

Anyway, I want a new word for 2017, and I’ve chosen “kindness.” Because there’s just too damn much meanness, incivility and hate being bandied about, especially during and after the shit show that was the U.S. presidential election.

I am sickened when I read reports of the increase in hate crimes perpetrated by deplorables who apparently feel emboldened by the PEOTUS’s own antics, and the ugliness spewed by trolls on the internet.

Here in Maine, we have a governor who called a state legislator a cocksucker in an allegedly drunken phone rant, and told the NAACP to “kiss my butt.” Plus, more than 10% of Maine’s teachers and child care providers have expelled students as young as 3 years old because of behaviors such as hitting, pushing and biting, according to a new survey from the Maine Children’s Growth Council—which tells a sad tale of what these kids are seeing at home.

My friends have had encounters with aggressive drivers who flip them the bird, fellow shoppers who get all pissy when asked to take their rightful place at the end of the checkout line, or travelers who refuse to move their luggage even though it’s blocking an airport restaurant aisle.

It’s hard to not be triggered by this type of behavior and respond with anger or a snarky putdown. But what does this really achieve—except a likely escalation of hostilities and perpetuation of an unkind world?

So I’m going to try my damnedest in 2017 to channel Michelle Obama’s “When they go low, we go high” mantra. And to not just be reactive but proactive when it comes to sowing seeds of kindness.

Like my friend who, when she spotted a flagman without gloves directing traffic during road construction on her street—on a cold Maine winter’s day—went home, grabbed a pair of her husband’s gloves, and brought them to the worker.

So much of being kind simply has to do with not looking away—instead, engaging with people and acknowledging their presence, making a human gesture that’s just thoughtful and caring, having empathy. Like buying a meal for a homeless person instead of averting my eyes and walking past him or her. Or having a conversation with the elderly person in the seat next to me in the doctor’s waiting room. Reaching out in some way to help make someone else’s life easier, better or less lonely, to connect, instead of looking down at my phone.

And then there are those little random acts of kindness that might bring a smile to someone’s face, like paying the toll for the car behind me now and again, or for the order of the person behind me in line at the coffee shop.

And acting on the impulse to give when I hear of someone who needs help, instead of just thinking about it. Whether it’s delivering soup to a sick friend, donating clothing or household goods to someone who’s been burned out of their home, or sending a gift card or a check to a good cause—even the smallest contribution of time, money or effort can make a difference.

A few weeks ago, a baby boomer friend had a tiny heart tattooed on the inside of her forearm. She decided this was the tangible assist she needed to help redirect her anger and frustration amid all the post-election mishegas—kind of a variation on worry beads. So now, when she feels her bile rise, she touches her tattoo and reminds herself that “love trumps hate.”

Similarly, I want to be mindful of being kind in the year ahead (without puncturing and inking my skin). To help make the world—at least my infinitesimal portion of it—a kinder, gentler place by, say, not reflexively calling someone an asshole when they cut me off in traffic (even if they are). Or not assuming nefarious motives when someone else’s bad attitude could simply be because they’re having a crappy day. Or not snapping at Hubs for whatever reason spouses snap at each other.

And who knows—maybe there’s a butterfly effect, and my small effort could have a bigger impact. Perhaps someone I’m nice to pays it forward, and so does the recipient of their kindness, and so on. Regardless, what’s there to lose by simply being a nicer person?

Kindness costs nothing,
while meanness exacts a toll.
Let’s be nice, shall we?

There is one caveat, though. I reserve the right to use snark and sarcasm here in my blog, particularly to call out stupidity, meanness or asshattery. If it’s my truth, I’m going to speak it. But I’ll do it in the kindest way possible (wink, wink).

What do you think? Do you believe the world needs more kindness? Got suggestions for how to make it happen? Have you got a one-word theme for 2017? Please share…


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  • 34 thoughts on “This baby boomer’s got one word for 2017

    1. Lisa Weldon says:

      You just re-routed my day. Put a smile in my heart. Thank you!

      1. Roxanne says:

        Thank you, Lisa! You just made my day!

    2. Norma says:

      I live in a world of emboldened Neanderthals that drive around in jacked up trucks with the bars and stars flying from the back of the truck bed. So, kindness is a stretch but maybe patience with a touch of pleasantness might be found. I will work on kindness later.

      1. Roxanne says:

        I’d be hard-pressed to be kind, too. But patience with a touch of pleasantness is a good place to start…

    3. Amy Haible says:

      Love this one. I would add only one idea from A Course in Miracles. Kindness not only costs nothing, but it is reflected BACK to the giver. Its gift is received not only by the receiver but also by the offerer. This is because love shared grows. And the opposite is also true; meanness hurts the one who is mean as well as the target. It’s just physics on the emotional level; the equation must balance out. This is why we always receive what we give. It is the Law of Love. And kindness becomes so much more easily shared when we understand another aspect of the Law: every attack is a call for love. No exceptions. Hard to see sometimes. And last: God is in everything. How can this not be so when Source created it All. It is a logical impossibility for anything to be outside Source. This is why all attacks are, in reality, requests for Love.

      1. Roxanne says:

        Wow, Amy. Thanks for such a thoughtful reply. I’d never really perceived attacks as requests for love, but when you think about it, it certainly makes sense. With that in mind, I hope it will make it easier to respond to (and perhaps defuse?) bad behavior with kindness.

    4. Janet Alexander says:

      Very thoughtful Roxanne and such a positive way to begin a new year. I would add the word gratitude. I keep a daily gratitude journal. It sets a nice tone for the day. So sets your blog for the year!

      1. Roxanne says:

        Thank you, Janet! While I don’t keep a gratitude journal, each night before falling asleep I recount what I’m grateful for that day–it’s a nice way to slip off into dreamland (or at least until I have to get up to pee, and then I try to be grateful that my bladder works and we have indoor plumbing). Happy New Year to you and Sam!

    5. Janice says:

      I think the ones who need to practice kindness are the ones who are just not listening…but I’ll be hopeful…And as Atticus Finch said – you can’t understand another human being till you get into his skin and walk around in it..to paraphrase!…so to be mindful of the other person’s POV. Maybe I got cut off by someone because they might miss their exit or turn and I know I’ve done that!

      1. Roxanne says:

        It’s so true, Janice–we don’t always know what someone else is dealing with at that moment in time our paths cross. Thank you for commenting here!

    6. After such a mean spirited 2016 election year, I’m all for kindness. Thanks for the gentle reminder! And, please do continue with calling out asshattery (love that expression)!

      1. Roxanne says:

        Thanks, Claudia. Given the incoming occupant of the Oval Office, I’m afraid I’ll have a healthy supply of asshattery to fuel the blog!

    7. margaret says:

      Thanks Roxanne

      I think it’s the day-to-day acts of kindness that are easiest to give and give me the most satisfaction. Especially when I feel helpless to change the bigger picture right now. Starts at home! In our grocery store, street, recycling center, airport, subway, etc.

      1. Roxanne says:

        I agree, Margie. The opportunities we have right in our own backyard do feel easier to give, and we can see/feel the impact we can have. And, as you say, it’s a way to combat the powerlessness so many of us are feeling about changing the bigger picture. Thanks for commenting!

    8. Jennifer says:

      I love this. And yes, kindness does get reflected back. I smile at everyone I see, a big, toothy smile. I’ve yet to come across someone whose face didn’t light up.

      1. Roxanne says:

        What a great way to engage, if only for a moment, and bring some light into both your lives! I love it!

    9. This is so relevant to the climate that exists at present in the world, Roxanne.
      Wishing you the very best in 2017

      1. Roxanne says:

        Thank you, Corrine, for your comment and good wishes for the new year. I wish the same for you!

    10. Sue says:

      A beautiful choice of word, Roxanne. We can all do with more kindness in our world. I’ve shared on ST60 & Beyond FB page. Have a lovely day. x

      1. Roxanne says:

        Thanks so much, Sue, for your positive comment and for sharing on your Facebook page–much appreciated!

    11. Teri says:

      Agree with all of it! I had a teachable moment with my 10-year-old granddaughter in Boston over the holidays. She saw me give a dollar to a homeless man and remarked that was a nice thing for me to do. I then said “Well, he deserves a good Christmas too.” With that, she turned back and went to where he was seated and wished him Merry Christmas. He replied her caring was the best gift he could wish for. Great blog post, Roxanne.

      1. Roxanne says:

        Oh, Teri, what a sweet, sweet story. If that doesn’t illustrate the impact a little kindness can have, I don’t know what does. Thank you for sharing this. XO

    12. The world needs every drop of kindness it can get these days. So much hatred erupted over the US elections – it made me very glad to live in Australia! My word for 2017 is “Enough” because I am enough, I have enough, and I want to be grateful for that.

      1. Roxanne says:

        Amen, Leanne!

    13. I completely agree. And gone are the days when politicians were civil. I am so flummoxed at how this has come about but the demons of hell have been unleashed and we do need more kindness.

      1. Roxanne says:

        It is hard to comprehend the rampant incivility in this country today, in all corners of our society. I’m committed to doing whatever I can to counteract it. Thanks for commenting, Carol.

    14. You chose the same word I did. Kindness has to be the door we walk through for the next 4 years. Helping one another, particularly those being marginalized. Wow about what’s going on in my favorite state of Maine, Roxanne. I am shaking my head in shame that this kind of horrific behavior is going on.

      I stand with you in kindness, and thank you for such a beautiful post. Loved every word of it.

      1. Roxanne says:

        Thank you so much, Cathy. There really is so much good in the world; unfortunately, it’s the not-so-good that seems to be center stage lately. We’ll do our part to offset it, won’t we?

    15. “So much of being kind simply has to do with not looking away—instead, engaging with people and acknowledging their presence, making a human gesture that’s just thoughtful and caring, having empathy.” I LOVE this, Roxanne. So true. Beautfiul post and reminder that kindness costs nothing. Thank you. Sharing!

      1. Roxanne says:

        Thank you so very much, Cathy–for your comment and for sharing!

    16. Thanks for putting words to the conflict and ugliness I feel every time I leave the house. I work in a retail job and am appalled at people’s selfish and rude behavior. Happy New Year!

      1. Roxanne says:

        I’m sure it’s difficult to be polite and rise above it when you see that type of behavior. I hope you also have customers who value your professionalism and service–and help offset the boorish ones! Thank you for commenting–and Happy New Year to you, too!

    17. First of all, I was worried because I said shit in my last comment. Now I see you said shit in this post, so thank you. Secondly, I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say here – kindness needs to grow and grow and we must keep on doing little acts of kindness regardless of the difficulties we sometimes encounter. So many people are alone and lonely now that even a smile from a stranger can be a real gift – there is certainly no room for meaness in this world. A cold, uncaring attitude towards a stranger could be the straw that breaks the camels back. My attitude now is kindness ALWAYS – unless it’s a psychopath, in which case run like hell.

      1. Roxanne says:

        I completely agree with everything you wrote, Gilly. I especially appreciate “even a smile from a stranger can be a real gift.” Oh, and the part about run like hell if you encounter a psychopath. 🙂

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