One of the greatest obstacles to change is the belief we have nothing to change. The other obstacle? Believing we can't change or make a change.
I told a friend that I was writing a blog on kindness. This person rolled his eyes and groaned.
Kindness has a bad rap. A lot of people think it's an inspirational quote you hang on your kitchen wall and forget. Others think it's for wimpy people. Still others think that if you're kind you can't be honest or ever get angry.
Those who think kindness is a good thing usually think they're already kind. It's the rest of the world that isn't nice. Look at those terrible politicians. How can they be shouting at each other all the time? They're the ones who need a lesson on kindness.
The politicians are not reading this.
Since you're reading this, I'm going to assume that you think you need a little motivation to be kinder. I know I do. Yesterday I started yelling then realized I was writing this blog. I need help, too.
That's a great start. Maybe it'll just be you and me learning to be more intentional about putting kindness in our thoughts, words, and actions. The world will become a better place.
1. You can't change outcomes.
The first lesson in kindness is to realize you can't change outcomes, only your thoughts and behaviors. This means that no matter how polite you are to others, they might not return the favor. Be polite anyway.
No matter how carefully you drive, the others around you might not care. Drive respectfully, anyway, and keep your middle finger down.
Don't expect awards or people to pat you on the back for being kind. Kindness is the right thing to do even when no one else is practicing it.
2. Kindness Begins at Home
Some of my meanest moments have been right at home with my own children and husband. Once my daughter asked why I was nicer to other people than to her and her sisters. Granted, she didn't like being disciplined, but she had a point. There were times when my tone was harsh and didn't fit the crime. Parents could learn to be kind to each other as well. How many times do spouses argue or poke fun at each other? Children learn what they witness.
3. Slow Down
When I am too busy I get crabby. My mind races on what needs to get done. Someone in front of me is driving too slowly. Move over! A sales person scans the items as if frozen on a conveyor belt. Hurry up! A child wants me to read a book. Now? Company is coming in five minutes. Go to your room!
Slow down. Do not ride on the person's bumper.
Take a deep breath as you watch the sloth-like sales person.
Read the book to your child. Who cares if the dust bunnies are floating around your dining room floor?
If your boss is screaming for you to get something done ASAP, take some deep cleansing breaths. Don't fall into the trap of negative thinking. Breath and think about how you're making the world a better place by doing your job.
Remember point one - you can't change your boss's behavior, only yours.
4. Do something Kind
There are a lot of people telling us to do something kind. Buy lunch for your co-workers. Pay for the person's order behind you in line at the coffee shop. Buy Kindness Counts t-shirts for the family reunion.
That gets expensive.
You don't have to buy anything to be kind.
Smile at people.
Pray for those you believe are evil.
Recently I heard a news commentator talk about a criminal who killed a bunch of people. He said the person should burn in #@!%. Indeed, the murderer deserves justice, but I'm going to let God be the final judge. There is a lot of evil in this world, but we can be a force for goodness if we work at intentional kindness in our thoughts, words, and actions.
If you can't summon kindness, pray.
5. Teflon is Good
Life meteors are constantly smacking into us. People make jokes at our expense. People snub us. Sometimes people say and do things without intending to hurt us, but they do. It's okay to feel the nicks but don't dwell on them. Admit they hurt but move on to forgive the person or persons. It might require doing this over and over but you are building your kindness muscle. It is so much more powerful and healthy than the bile of resentment destroying your mind and body.
6. Gratitude Increases Kindness
Certain foods contribute to good healthy living. Gratitude is one of those traits that contribute to healthy kindness. How can you be mean and nasty when you're thankful for everything around you? When you're waiting in line at the grocery store be thankful you don't have to farm for all your food. If you're not thrilled with your doctor, be thankful that you still have some healthcare, unlike some people in other countries.
There are times that really stretch you but even a tiny bit of gratitude can turn your perspective into something positive.
Remember, kindness is not a meme, it's a way of life.
Thank you for reading!
Check out this month's YouTube as I chat with Arielle Haughee, publisher of Orange Blossom Publishing. She discusses what it takes to be an author and publisher. We also chat about being grateful.
Join me Sunday, December 11 for Early Summer's Book Launch. We'll be serving light snacks. Come for some entertainment and the chance to win a prize.