On Being Kind

12-29-12

Recently someone told me he only believes in hard science and doesn’t pay attention to anything he can’t ‘prove’.  That got me thinking.

How much of my behavior is determined by my particular religious or spiritual beliefs?  Do I choose to behave in certain ways because I have the belief that someone or something is keeping track of my behaviors and holding me accountable?

Here’s what I came to.  I behave the way I behave, with as much integrity and kindness as I can, because it makes me feel good.  Totally self-serving!

Within that frame I try to follow some basic guidelines:  apologize when I do something stupid, forgive as quickly as possible when someone does something stupid to me or to the world, and listen, acknowledge and attempt to understand others’ position(s) even when they’re very different from mine.  That last one takes more energy and attention than I’d like to admit, just ask anyone in my family!   I can hold on to limiting ideas as though my life depends on it.  Turns out that many of my ‘positions’  and beliefs are more a reflection of my insecurity than my education or wisdom.

Maybe the less we focus on what we believe and the more we focus on who we want to be, the better?  Like the bus driver on the news who had his moment of fame a few years ago.  Many, many passengers wrote and commented about how he touched and changed them by giving each of their days a ‘moment’  because he was so glad to see them.  I can only imagine the impact of being warmly welcomed by a stranger on a day when we are in our darkest, loneliest places.  I can only imagine how the bus driver felt about living that life.  (I’ve seen my mom do that for people and it delights and surprises me each time.)

So regardless of what I can ‘prove’, I’m making a choice to believe in the power of kindness.

I think about the bus driver often.  I suspect he welcomed everybody, even the folks who smelled bad and didn’t smile back.  Because it made him feel good to be that guy.  I’d like to be him when I grow up.  My wish for 2013 is that we delight and welcome each other.