An ode to kind Gracelynn

Kindness is an energy source. Unleashed, it bounces around the universe and back, like an echo. That is the message I carry with me when invited to speak at City Hall School.

Visiting City Hall School is one of the best things about being a city councillor. It’s like recess for politicians. Sadly, without the climbing, jumping, tumbling or running. But the kids are cool, polite and curious. Even the parents seem happy to meet a politician. Weird, eh? I think City Hall School teacher Ms. Hut edits the kids’ questions ahead of time. It’s been a long while since I’ve been asked how much money I make, how I lost my hair or … what’s up with That Moustache? Thanks Ms. Hut.

Thanks, too, to Gracelynn for echoing back the kind note to me. It made me happy. It reads:

The day I visited  Gracelynn’s class at City Hall School, I did my usual. I introduced myself and talked about kindness. I told them how I learned late in life that kindness is the secret to happiness. I told them that I’m a slow learner because I have an ego. Then I told them that being kind does a few great things. First, when we’re kind, people tend to be kind back. That feels good. Second, being kind to others also makes us feel proud of ourselves. That also feels good.

But when we’re actively kind to people — mowing the lawn for mom, doing the laundry for dad, helping our friends and neighbours with chores — it magnifies the positive feelings by, like, a gazillion.

“I would not have believed this at your age,” I said. “But I swear it’s true.” I do. I swear it’s true. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that putting other people’s needs ahead of my own is strangely happy making. Why? I think it’s because many of us grew up with bottomless egos. What’s an ego? An ego is your inside voice with all the opinions about yourself, other people and the world. Unhealthy egos want, want, want. They want the world’s supply of praise, fame and money. But they never get it. That’s why unhealthy egos are total grumps, always blaming other people for their grumpiness.

Becoming a city councillor did not make me happy. Helping people in my role as a city councillor makes me happy, though. Especially working with Roxanne, Rebecca and Melissa in the Ward 6 office. Kind work, done together, is another trick to happiness. So no, happiness isn’t in fame or riches. It’s not in proving yourself smarter or tougher than other people. Happiness comes from the feelings we get when we are with other people in kindness.  Helping others feel happy makes us happy.

If I were better at math, I’d write that into an equation. I’ll leave that for the City Hall School students. Like Gracelynn.

By Scott McKeen, City Councillor Ward 6 and Gracelynn, Grade 3 student at Bisset School