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Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness Hardcover – April 22, 2014
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“The graduating college senior in your life probably just wants money. But if you want to impart some heartfelt, plainspoken wisdom in addition to a check, you can't do much better than [Congratulations, by the way].”—Entertainment Weekly
“The loving selflessness that [George Saunders] advises and the interconnectedness that he recognizes couldn’t be purer or simpler—or more challenging.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Warm and tender.”—Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
The speech is fantastic though, and this is a great "gift" book.
Saunders is right. If I had to name the happiest people I've met in my life and that I remember with the most fondness, it would be those who were consistently kind to me and to others.
If I could choose the legacy to leave when I depart this world - the way I'd like to be remembered, it might be "He was always kind" (I'm sure it won't be).
Saunders gives us the inspiration to be kind and a few suggestions as to how. Not bad for only a few words.
On May 11 2013 at the Carrier Dome, writer and Professor George Saunders delivered the convocation speech for the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University. Its transcript became highly successful when it was posted on the ‘The New York Times’ web page, where Saunders simple, but motivating words about kindness managed to arouse the wealth of positive energy in those people who listened to him are later read its speech.
“…So, the second million-dollar question: How might we DO this? How might we become more loving, more open, less selfish, more present, less delusional, etc., etc?
Well, yes, good question.
Unfortunately, I only have three minutes left.
So let me just say this. There are ways. You already know that because, in your life, there have been High Kindness periods and Low Kindness periods, and you know what inclined you toward the former and away from the latter. Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation’s good; a frank talk with a dear friend; establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition — recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us.
Because kindness, it turns out, is hard — it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include . . . well, everything…”
Although it comes on only sixty pages, of which half are the pictures, the author manages to say so much wonderful about the importance of kindness in his work that it can certainly be recommended not only to those who will read for themselves, but also as a wonderful gift for future graduates as a guiding principle for life and a career which lie in front of them.
I then got in my car, surfed satellite radio for music, medical advice, whatever, and chanced upon someone being interviewed on NPR. As I listened, I was amazed to figure out that the person being interviewed was George Saunders talking about this very speech!!! Powerful positive reinforcement! I'm going to give this book to my daughters, grandchildren and close friends . . . and read it again . . . and again . . . myself!
But it's worth reading.
What advice do you give to graduating students? Often it's about how to succeed in the world -- e.g., find something you love to do and do it. And there have been memorable commencement speeches of that type. Some go beyond that, e.g., the speech that Steve Jobs gave to graduating Stanford students in 2005.
Saunders gives a very simple message -- be kind.
He asks himself what he regrets in his own life, from the vantage point of decades that the students he is talking to haven't experienced yet. And the thing that he identifies is his indifference toward a girl in his school when he was young. He wasn't mean to her, but he ignored her when she needed kindness.
I can certainly think of the missed opportunities in my life when I wasn't kind to someone -- it would have taken so little. My life won't be any the less for having missed that last jump shot in the final seconds of a basketball game. It will be less for having turned away from someone who I could have helped have a better life. Few of us can say that we've kept the right balance of self-interest and kindness.
I've read criticisms of Saunders' speech, that he ignores the material difficulties facing students who graduate from college today, with poor employment opportunities and often carrying heavy college loan debts on into their distant futures. I would imagine those things weigh more heavily on their minds than whether or not they are kind persons.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love the message of this book and always send it as a graduation gift. Perfect!Published 1 month ago by Alden
Wonderful, short teaching on adult regret for graduates. It got me thinking what my greatest regret might be. So it is not just good for graduates, it is good for all adults.Published 2 months ago by SK
Never has a book had such a calming hopeful effect. I bought three for my family and read it every week. This book speaks to me. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Scott A. Krueger
I wish someone had mentioned this to me at my commencements, tho I probably wouldn't have listened, being as full of myself as most young people. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Minette
This is a perfect gift for your graduate. It is a short read with a wonderful message.Published 7 months ago by Mary D.
So many ports in a storm, it may be difficult to select kind harbor. Least it be a disappointment for the receiver and the giver, one must first allow for the very notion of "what... Read morePublished 7 months ago by margaret