December 24, 2013
Tis the season and I’ve noticed that people are being especially thoughtful. That got me to thinking and raised the question what is kindness made of? There’s something in the air around the holidays that I’d like to bottle and sprinkle on mankind throughout the rest of the year.
But then I thought, maybe kindness is simply made up of getting over myself and my requirement that other people behave the way I think they should. I suspect kindness is in play when I’m able to offer respect and outgoing concern in the face of someone behaving in ways that offend, annoy or leave me feeling frustrated and self-righteous.
The reality is that it takes zero effort to be kind to people who don’t frustrate or annoy us. You know who I mean–the ones who like us, smile at us, and in one way or another treat us with the respect we think we’re due. Or easier yet, the ones who do what we think they should or what we tell them to do. Now those are good people!
Seriously, I’m not suggesting anyone should accept abuse. I’m saying that if my self-image is one of kindness and compassion, if it’s more than words it will be reflected in how I talk about, treat and extend myself to those I don’t really enjoy. In essence, the ones who really need my outgoing concern, acceptance and loving kindness.
Kindness is what I hope will be extended to me every day as I walk this precarious path of trying to be a decent human being and often failing miserably. My heart has been broken open many, many times when I’ve received a gesture or a smile or the understanding of someone over-looking yet another mistake I’ve unknowingly made.
We can also practice on ourselves by acknowledging that we’re each doing our best. Together, with a loving gesture or word, maybe we can bring each other back to our best selves more often.
I think kindness starts with me, and I have 365 days during the coming year to get better at it. I hope you’re in.