Today I am grateful for sweat and endorphins, courtesy of my old and free Nordic Track machine. I am also grateful for a better understanding of the simplicity and value of showing kindness.

KINDNESS shown to self and others makes all the difference. One of my regular mantras is "be kind and gentle with myself and others today."  If it strikes you as odd that I mention myself first, let me explain. I am my own worst enemy. I am far tougher on myself than anyone else is on me. For me, that is a manifestation of my disease of alcoholism, but I am certain many of us feel this way for many different reasons.

If I am my own worst enemy and I am stuck in that self-hatred, I am likely to be caught up in my own head and not notice others and opportunties to be kind to them. So if I start with myself, the kind and gentle approach opens my mind and heart and allows me to be of better service to those around me.

When I say "to be of better service" I am referring to the little things, the small kindnesses. Holding a door for a stranger coming out of a store with their hands full. Letting a car go ahead of me so they don't have to keep waiting. Smiling and saying hello. Most importantly though, and sometimes most challenging, is showing that kindness to those closest to me. Keeping my mouth shut when harsh words are on the tip of my tongue. Being quiet unless my opinion is asked. Respecting the wishes or space of someone else and not pushing my own agenda.

Being present and mindful, in a grateful frame of mind, also allows more kindness to flow. I am more likely to get a cup of coffee for my husband or make breakfast for my son. They are people who really matter in my life and they deserve the small kindnesses I can offer.

Today, I will look for where I can show kindness to others, remembering that reaching out to others starts with me being kind to me.