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Thoughts about adding not substracting

I’m always inspired by Austin Kleon’s blog posts.

You’ve got to be kind

I revisited this one recently, in which he quotes James Martin (who’s a Jesuit priest), who suggests that rather than giving up something for Lent, we try instead to do something active and positive: “Be kind.”

I’m not particularly religious and I don’t do Lent but I do appreciate the occasion to make a change in our habits — there are many such opportunities through the cycle of the calendar, like birthdays (especially big ones, I turned 40 last year y’know!), new year, stuff like that. What struck me is that often we decide to stop doing something. Stop smoking, stop drinking, give up chocolate, lose weight, etc. I love that he turned that on its head.

In my work, we call that “taking an asset-based approach”: starting with what we have and what we can do. Not what’s wrong.

It’s nice that this popped up in a non-work area of my life. It’s a good thing to do generally, and an easy one to forget. Thanks for the reminder, James Martin via Austin Kleon.

FYI, James Martin gives some simple tips on how to be kind:
1) Don’t be a jerk.
2) Honor the absent.
3) Always give people the benefit of the doubt.


Austin Kleon also quotes Roger Ebert:
“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”

I can live by that.

A photo of Austin Kleon's book open at a page displaying a black and white photo, it is of his torso wearing a tee-shirt that says "here to make friends" under a plaid shirt.

Credit: Austin Kleon, photographing a page from his book Steal Like An Artist

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