A Short Course in Kindness by Margot Silk Forrest

March 2, 2005

The first thing that struck me when I read this inspirational little book was Forrest’s proactive definition of kindness. Kindness is not an insincere compliment or an empty “call me if you need help.” Kindness requires us to give something of ourselves. It doesn’t have to be a huge sacrifice, either. It is one part empathy, one part compassion, one part charity. Kindness is giving the perfect gift without the holiday.

But more than telling us what kindness is and isn’t, Forrest inspires the reader to be kind. She does so most powerfully by seeding her pages with first-hand accounts of the effects of kindness on every day people like you and me. For this reader, these stories conjured memories of kind acts that were bestowed upon me, reminding me how a smile or a hug at just the right moment got me through some of my most painful experiences. Surely, I thought to myself as I read, these are things I could do for others.

And that is my favorite part about reading A Short Course in Kindness. The feeling I come away with that kindness is inevitable. It is in our nature. Despite the horror that the news media report to us every day, examples of people being kind to each other abound. I wish this book was required reading!

Forrest’s writing style is warm and humorous, and she isn’t afraid to share her own painful experiences. The chapters are short, yet quite moving. I find it makes for great reading whenever I catch myself with a few minutes to spare. I’ll read a few pages at bedtime, click off the light, and slip off to sleep feeling peaceful and optimistic. It’s the kind of book that you will want to read more than once.

A Short Course in Kindness is featured in the Turn On to Life! home-study course.