08/25/2014 02:32 pm ET Updated Oct 25, 2014

Born to Be Mild

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I've been told that I am "overly-sensitive." Is there really such a thing? In a world where people are frequently unkind to each other, is it really so bad to be sensitive to other people's feelings?

I've been this way my whole life. For as long as I can remember, and even in stories my mom tells from before I could remember, I've always been the softie. If a new kid transferred to my school, I was always the first one to greet them, because I felt bad that they didn't have any friends. When my friend Allen got teased in school for being overweight, I always stood up for him.

Over the years I've saved countless stray cats and stray dogs; I even rescued an abandoned baby squirrel! I can't help it; it's in my nature.

Compassion and empathy are not passing fads for me. It's the way I live my life and always have. But I've questioned over the years whether I feel too much and too deeply.

When someone hurts, I hurt right along with them. It's not just the empathy of being able to put myself in their shoes, it's a real hurt when I see someone else in pain. There have been times when I wished I could turn off my feelings to protect myself from the hurt, but since that's not an option, I just do my best not to have a meltdown.

I am a firm believer in the concept that no one "gets there" alone. I know that I have had a lot of help along the way, and I strive to help others as they go through life too. I know what it's like to be alone, to struggle and to be the victim of an injustice or cruel act. I don't want other people to go through the things I've gone through.

I know that I will never find the cure for cancer, solve world peace or find a solution to our national debt; but I do know that every day, I can do my part to leave my little corner of the world a little bit better than I found it.

Whenever there is a choice on how to behave in a situation, choose kindness. It's not that difficult; just choose kindness. Think about how you would feel if the proverbial shoe was on the other foot. Think about what it would be like to be on the receiving end of the treatment you are about to dole out to someone else.

Being mild does not mean being weak. It doesn't mean that you become a pushover and allow others to take advantage of you. Being mild means that you go through life treating others with respect and care. It means that you deal in compassion and kindness and always look for a way to make a situation better.

Imagine what the world would be like if everyone did that. Imagine what it would be like if we all approached one another in a spirit of kindness; if we all gave each other the benefit of the doubt. What would our world be like if we stopped intentionally hurting one another and instead of looking for the differences, looked for the similarities?

You can continue to call me overly-sensitive, but I'm going to continue to walk through the world in my mild way. I keep hoping that one day, others will follow; and what a wonderful world that would be!