The importance of being kind.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I wish, quite simply, to be more kind.
Oh, don't get me wrong! I'm kind now - I seek ways to help people, say please and thank you frequently, hold doors open and am generous with my gifts and talents. I'm no slouch in the kindness department but I still wish to be more kind because I now understand that kindness isn't a set of finite acts but rather, like spirit, an inate way of being in the world that has absolutely no boundaries. However kind I am today, I can be more kind tomorrow.
Part of this long journey to health and fitness has been an adoption of kindness alongside the development of a grateful life view. Back when I was stuck at 221 lbs and feeling like life was caving in on me, I wasn't much of a model for kindness. And I am convinced that part of the protection I was arming myself with in the form of too much fat was a response to operating from a place of unkindness. I don't want this post to become a confessional of past sins because I could be here all day offering increasingly ugly examples of my history of unkindness. No, I've moved on and I'd like everyone to consider doing so.
Because unkindness is rampant in our current world. When I read an interesting story in our online newspaper, I am loathe to open the comments section at the bottom because I know there is going to be vitriole spewing forth from anonymous souls hiding behind their computers. Youtube comments - same thing. Other community forums - same thing. A friend who monitors a board for a small website for empaths says she spends half her time deleting posts from people whose only presence on the board is to mock those who choose to be there. Why? Why is there such unkindness?
Another place I see it is on the roads. As a runner, I am often in situations of "near miss" with vehicles - people simply aren't watching for pedestrians - sidewalks notwithstanding. Because I know any confrontation between me and a car is going to end badly for me, I am vigilant while running - constantly watching for cars moving in my vicinity. When one does cut across the sidewalk with nary a glance in my direction, I give a quick yelp (or, hit the car with my hand - they're that close!) to draw their attention to the fact that they just about hit me. In only one case has a driver ever apologised to me. I've been "flipped the bird" more times than I can count and, most frequently, the driver glares before carrying on with their trip.
I could go on and on with examples - I'm sure you have your own!
Try as I might, I can no longer see a reason for unkindness. People have tried to justify it to me; "we're so stressed", "we need places to vent", "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" etc. I'm not buying it. How much of our stress comes from people being unkind to us? How often does venting actually relieve the angst? Who is applying the heat? And how does adding heat make the kitchen a more comfortable place to be?
I have learned an absolute fact. I can choose my response to every situation. And I am choosing to be kind because being kind does not increase the stress in the world; it reduces the need to vent; it is a cooling breeze.
I choose to be kind by:
Ensuring that everything I submit online is framed in a positive way.
Acknowledging what people have said before I respond with my own ideas.
Sitting in awareness of my own automatic responses to life's little annoyances and choosing not to act on them!
Looking into the eyes of the panhandler while I say no. And saying yes sometimes.
Picking up the lids of my neighbour's garbage cans as they go flying down the street on garbage day.
Thanking the bus driver, the toll collector, the crossing guard - all those people who work hard to serve civilisation in an anonymous way - noticing them and recognizing their presence on this planet.
Shopping locally and paying a little more to support my loacl economy.
Taking care of myself and cutting myself some slack when things get a little hectic.
Not using pesticides or herbicides in my yard.
Looking for ways in everyday to be a little nicer.
Kindness to others, myself and the planet - what could happen if we all adopted this view?