Thinking About Kindness
I screwed up this week. The details are not important, but what matters, to me, is that I failed to consider kindness as an overriding factor in dealing with humans.
I am fortunate to have encountered a great deal of kindness in my life. Most recently, I have found practitioners of the generosity model, in real life and out on the Web, who have spent their precious time and energy helping me, without asking for any reward. Of course, they aren’t stupid – grateful people are more likely to subscribe, to read, to buy. But there is also something intrinsically pleasurable about helping other people, and empathetic and kind people are likely to have better lives. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Still, when something happens to upset and anger us, sometimes the kind, empathetic veneer comes off, and the petulant child underneath reveals herself. It is generally not a pretty sight. All being well, we can get her back under control upon reflection, apologise and mend whatever fences may have been damaged during the tantrum. Still, it can be a sobering experience to realise how thin that veneer can be, in ourselves and others.
If you read this blog regularly, you know that I’m a great fan of David Wood. Recently David has been inviting listeners to his podcast to ask him questions. I was lucky enough to be featured in the first Assk Dave episode. In the second one, a listener asked about the best piece of advice he ever received, and he responded that it was to go back to England and speak to everyone he was angry with (mostly his family). Here is the rest of that response:
When you hold onto any anger or hatred, it’s like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.
I now practise immediate forgiveness, coupled with 100% responsibility, so that when people are being mean or do or say something that is hateful, I simply forgive them and realize that it really has nothing to do with me.
Immediate forgiveness was challenging at first, and the more I practised not taking anything personally, the more powerful and caring I felt.
Instant forgiveness might be a bit out of my reach at the moment, but it is certainly something to strive for.
What do you think, how can we bring more kindness and forgiveness into our lives?