Defining Kindness in its many Grammatical Forms

This was originally posted on Medium

I posted in another forum the following question: Is kindness a verb, an adjective or a noun? How do you define it? I am hoping some more responses come in that tell me why people feel it’s one or all of the above. To date, the responses have focused on the grammar but haven’t explained the reason why they have put forth the grammatical form indicated. It’s a literal tricky question I’ve put forth.

I love that The Kind company likes to think of it as a verb — as a way of doing kind things for others, being of service. My children see it as a verb and a noun. They see it as a way of feeling and doing. They went on to describe how they feel around people whom they have identified as the kindest people in their worlds. They shared stories of feeling included, cared for, supported, heard and safe. On a regular basis we share stories of acts of kindness we’ve performed or saw throughout our days when we sit down to dinner.

I wonder how the majority of the population would define kind(ness). I wonder if they recalled some of their own experiences of kindness, what would populate their definition? I wonder where they experienced it first.

While visiting Burlington, VT in October, I was contemplating this topic of how to amplify kindness. As soon as I started thinking about it, my world started showing up with abundant kindness!

A colleague was driving me to a training we were attending. She was sharing a story with me and I was focused on listening. I was looking at her while she was speaking. I couldn’t believe it, but outside a church we were passing I saw a huge billboard that said Kindness is….and people from the community were walking up to write in what it was to them. I didn’t want to interrupt her story and told her about what I saw when we were parking in front of our training sight. She said “ we have to go back.” I indicated that we would probably be late and she said, “I’ll take you back at lunch or when we leave today”. She shared the excitement about my topic.

I wasn’t sure there would be time since I was flying home that day. When we were sharing good byes at the end of the training I was preparing to call for a ride to the airport and I wanted to say my good bye to my colleague. She said “this isn’t goodbye, I am taking you to the airport and on the way we are going back to find that billboard.” I was overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness and her willingness to take the extra time to not only find the church but also to take me to the airport. We both wrote in our answers alongside moms with little children and other community members and took a picture. We shared the tightest of hugs when she left me at the doorstep of the airport. I felt like my heart was full.

Since then my eyes have been opened. I am seeing kindness all around me in strangers and most importantly in my home. I am continuing to ask the question and play detective to find out how people define kind(ness) and how it shows up all around me and us as a result of just asking the question . I’d have to agree with my children that for me too, it’s a combination of doing (a verb) and feeling (a noun) but it’s all of the above. My mechanical engineer husband agrees based on his elementary school English teacher, if he had to diagram the sentence, it could qualify as all of the above. You can always make it something more. Will you make it a verb, will you be a descriptor of it or will you be it? Stay tuned and feel free to share your definitions with me, too!

About the author, Andrea

Wife, mom, Appreciative Inquiry and KINDNESS practitioner who is interested in the intersection of home, school, work and play.

Leave a Comment