My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. Dalai Lama
Rewind back the movie of your life. Think about the extra marshmallow in your cocoa, the time you weren’t picked last at PE, the college roommate who graciously gave you the desk by the window. Smile a little, I know you want to. Feel the warm fuzzies.
I have learned that kindness is a commodity. We trade it on the stock market of life, exchanging shares of thoughtfulness for happy times. Kindness is priceless, but easily obtainable for everyone. The way we treat other people, when we are mindful and thoughtful, reflects back directly upon our selves. We are perceived in the world at large through our words and actions, even by the things we don’t do. By thinking about how we move through life, we can all be kinder, gentler, more mindful.
Mindful. This word keeps popping up everywhere you look. It’s about attitude, habit and a way of life. Being mindful is necessary to evolve to a life of kindness. If we are thoughtless, selfish, and narcissistic, then it is nearly impossible to be kind. Thoughtlessness (is that a word?) leads to unkindness; innocuous words and self absorption declare your intent to the world.
Mindful. It is meant to make you think. To be reminded of kindness. To witness and participate in random acts of kindness. We all tear up when we see the heartwarming segments on the local news. Police officers in cold cities giving shoes, blankets and coats to the homeless, etc. I like the idea of being mindful.
It is important to be mindful in all personal interactions. Thoughtful people are generous friends; the ones who lend a sympathetic ear, the ones who lift your spirits when all seems dark and hopeless.
Learn to approach each person in your life with your full, undivided attention. Put away the cell phones, the text can wait. Stop scouring Facebook when you’re on the phone, turn off the TV when your kids come in to talk. You won’t regret it, because by tuning out, you’re tuned in to reality, and life, love, gratitude and kindness. Learn to approach each person in your life with your full, undivided attention. Be merciful, smile, and interact with genuine warmth, compassion and gentleness. Don’t we all deserve this kindness?
Something to ponder: when we treat others with kindness, even on the days we are fighting our own demons, we change. Warm fuzzy balls of happiness, yup, happy feelings form, making those happy hormones (remember them, see The Art of Being Happy) kick in and we in turn feel better. It’s a great way to create a positive circle of kindness, empathy and beauty. Kindness is evolutionary and transformative. It infuses your life and changes the way we see the world. It seeps into your relationships, making them more positive and energized. If you’re a parent, it is a life lesson for your children – as their first teacher, your positivity and grace will guide them to a life of being mindful of others (see, that word again!). It will engage their higher sense of learning, compassion and empathy.
So how can we choose to change and to be more “mindful” which really translates to being kinder? (Yes, I know I’m probably condensing the whole theory, but this all popped into my head during a meditative walking state.) I think we can practice kindness by following some very simple rules.
First, don’t gossip. With all the technology at our fingertips, it is easier to get misinformation, spread it around like rat poison and REALLY hurt someone. Sometimes irrevocably and irreconcilably. It is so easy to forget, especially in our fast paced, need to know everything yesterday society, that sharing gossip, a false post, etc. is always at somebody else’s expense. This is not a kindness to you or to them. Gossips are ugly and vindictive. Keep it to yourself. If you are concerned, mindfully, gently approach the subject. Share your empathy, your shoulder, a smile. Sometimes that is the biggest, kindest thing you can offer.
Naturally, now that we are mindful (I’m really liking this term) not to gossip, the next rule is to show empathy. Take a minute and put yourself in the other person’s place. Often they have been or are going through hard and tough times, and are facing many daunting challenges. Seeing it from their POV, from a different perspective, is often enlightening. It can change your whole view of them, and the situation. Everyone has demons to fight, and kindness helps to keep those incessant roars at bay.
Thirdly, move beyond the past. Let go of grudges. I know firsthand how difficult this can be. When I rewind, I see the bullies, the liars and the horrible events that shaped my destiny. If I let go, I am being kind to myself. We all must be kinder and gentler to ourselves. Holding onto anger and grudges exhausts us mentally, skews our visions for the future and stresses us out unnecessarily. The only time holding a grudge is a good thing is as the plot of a bad Japanese horror film. (Sorry Hollywood)
Next, I want to reiterate that word – mindful. Be mindful in all things. What you out into your body (clean eating makes for clean living. Clean living makes for clean thinking, which in turn generates kindness.) Be mindful how we treat others – a little kindness goes a long way and is often reciprocated. Kindness can be paid forward. Make sure you extend your new found kindness to yourself as well as to others. You’ll feel lighter, more positive and be more successful. (Ok, maybe you have to work hard for the success)
So to sum it all up, I think mindfulness and kindness go hand in hand. It I s not easy to be kind in all interactions, it takes effort to always think of others. When we touch another’s life, through a kind word or a graceful public thanks on Facebook, a hug in the produce aisle, or just listening over a cup of morning beans (sorry, couldn’t resist folks – you all know of my penchant for coffee) our own lives are touched as well. We change. We evolve. We become thoughtful, mindful, kind people who bask in the light, not wallow in the dark. Spring has arrived, so take some time to deep clean the chaos from your soul. Make room for goodness. Uncomplicated, uncluttered, untangled, thoughtful. Mindful. Practice random acts of kindness and grand gestures of mindfulness. It’s a simpler, happier way of life.
Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? Perhaps you are the mindful listener, giver and all around friend hugger! Share your story in the comment. Kind thoughts, gentle words and virtual hugs to all.