“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” Dalai Lama
Do you consider yourself a kind person? Are you surrounded by kind people? What has created your ideas about what kindness is?
Qualities of Kind People
I am always deeply touched by kind people, and there are several things that I notice about them. They are people who are at peace with themselves. They look for what is positive in others and in situations. They are empathetic and compassionate.
These are the kind of people I want in my life, the people I can trust who, when there is conflict, will talk respectfully about our differences and work things out. I can look back on my life and see the many times when I tolerated behavior in relationships and friendships that was less than respectful of who I was and my needs. Now I find that I am less willing to ignore such disrespect and that more of the people I draw into my life are kind.
What has changed and why is kindness so important to me now? Peace, love, and joy are now my priorities.
Kindness Is Based On Loving Ourselves
I recently read an article “The Magic of Unconditional Love: An Interview with Don Miguel Ruiz” by Diane Marie Bishop in Science of Mind Magazine. In the article, Ruiz talks about how we cannot love others unconditionally unless we unconditionally love ourselves. Over the years, my ability to love myself has grown. I have let go of my need to be perfect or to fit someone else’s standard. This acceptance has given me more peace, and I have learned to be kinder to myself and others.
It is all connected. When we love ourselves, peace and joy automatically become part of our lives and the expression of kindness becomes a natural thing. We are less reactive and more aware of how our words and actions affect others. We are also more flexible and able to adapt to the needs of others when it is appropriate. But we also are at peace with who we are and can say “no” when we must and do it in a way that is kind.
Negative Thinking Blocks Kindness
It was a challenging week last week with many every day difficulties arising. It was a week of important teachings, a reminder that, instead of getting caught up in another’s negativity, I need to tap into my inner peace and stay there. I wasn’t always able to do that, but I will continue to pursue that path. Experiencing peace and love is my priority and what I want to share with others.
When we love ourselves, we are more likely to see life as positive. When we are feeling positive, we are more likely to respond to life in a positive manner and act kindly. But seeing the same situation from a negative point of view may completely change how we experience an event. Negative thinking can be a powerful block that supports our egos’ worst choices and keeps us from acting kindly from the heart.
Recently, I offered to loan a friend a library book I’d finished so she could also read it before it was due. With a long waiting list, it was hard to get. She emailed me to leave it in her mailbox, but I wasn’t comfortable with that due to the torrential rains we were having, and it belonged to the library so I didn’t want to risk its getting damaged. Since we lived close to each other, I asked her to give me a call when she was home, and I would bring it to her or she could pick it up. She thought my concern was foolish, and she became angry that I wouldn’t do this the way she wanted, rejected my offer, and refused to return my phone call so we could work it out.
I was rather shocked by the whole situation. Her response to the situation seemed harsh and out of proportion to the reality although, in the past, she had been disturbed about situations she viewed as negative when I didn’t see them that way. Still, what created this problem? Had I been unkind without realizing it? Was she stressed about something or angry at me for another reason? I didn’t know. By focusing on the negative rather than the positive aspect of the situation and refusing to communicate, my friend created a problem that didn’t need to exist and eroded the trust I felt for her.
Positive Thinking Supports Kindness
An experience with a sales person last week when I had a problem with a new cell phone also illustrated the consequences of positive and negative approaches to situations. This man made it clear that he only had time for people who were there to buy something although I had been required to trade out my phone for a new one due to network changes.
Because of his lack of customer service, I decided not to do business there again. Instead I went to another store where a kind young man showed concern for my problems and took the time to show me how to use the new phone. Perhaps he was just a kind person or perhaps he understood making a customer happy might mean more sales in the long run. Either way he took the higher road.
Kindness May Be Expressed With Empathy and Compassion
Two other ways we can express kindness are through empathy and compassion. They are beautiful expressions of our love and peace. With empathy we are able to put ourselves in the other person’s place and feel what he is feeling. We may make this connection because we’ve experience a similar situation or because we use our imagination to envision what he is feeling. Compassion takes us one step further emotionally to a place where we want to help.
To share our feelings of concern through either of these expressions is an act of kindness. We care if another person is in pain or difficulty and want life to be better for him/her. I have another friend who frequently expresses these qualities. The trust I feel toward him because of this is huge. Whether he thinks my feelings are foolish or not is irrelevant. What he offers me is concern and empathy first. If we argue, it becomes a respectful conversation that allows us to understand each other and helps our relationship grow deeper. As a result, I feel loved and at peace with him. I can always trust that he cares about what is best for me.
Allowing kindness to become an important part of our lives can truly change them for the better, for kindness is part of the holy within us. It’s just another aspect of treating others as we wish to be treated. Perhaps it is also another way of changing our own little worlds and contributing positively to the larger one.
What kindness have you expressed or experienced lately?
© 2013 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5
Related Articles: Appropriate Compassion, Soul to Soul with Don Miguel Ruiz (video interview with Oprah), Are You Empathetic – 3 Types of Empathy and What they Mean, How to Fix the Broken Record in Your Head