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Mindful : April 2014
Others notice when you’re not noticing them because you’re preoccupied. “Our rule is to interact with anyone who’s helping us,” Car ter says. “Not long after we agreed on this, while I was going through a grocer y store checkout, I got a phone call from a doctor I’d been waiting to hear from. I took the call. After wards, I told the checkout person and the bag packer I was sorr y. ‘I had to take that call but I know it was rude.’ Both of them were visibly moved. They said, ‘Nobody ever says sorr y for that. You’re right; it’s rude. It’s like we’re invisible.’ They were touched by the apology and the acknowl- edgement. After all, it doesn’t feel good to be ignored, par- ticularly while you’re helping somebody.” Car ter and her daughters talk at dinner about simple ways to be kinder to others. For example, they decided that ever y time they walk into an elevator, they would make eye contact with one person, pos- sibly offer a smile and maybe even a few words. “It’s about making an effor t to connect,” Car ter says. “Once we had the sense of what kinds of things we can do, we really broadened our ‘giving’ vocabu- lar y. My daughters and I share this sense that ever y day and in ever y situation, there are lots of ways to reach out beyond ourselves and do something— however tiny—that is kind.” The small things are essential but Car ter and family also add some bigger gestures, such as making care packages for the homeless. Every few months, they buy in bulk and fill bags with necessities such as socks, bottles of water, lip balm—whatever the teens think might be of aid to those who are homeless. And Car ter says her “moody 13-year-old” also writes notes that are so sweet they make a mother cr y. “Just things like, ‘ We see you and we care.’ A lot of times they’ll give that, or just a dollar or a friendly hello but the rule is, you don’t just walk by.” To encourage a kinder world, start at home. Here are a few simple guidelines from sociologist Christine Carter to help develop kindness and compassion. She started with her own family. Kindness Rules Don’t Zone Out Gestures Count Start Small 3 1 2 April 2014 mindful 57