Thinking About Kindness


Romeo and Ani at Camp Kindness.

Romeo and Ani at Camp Kindness, by Catskill Animal Sanctuary, on Flickr

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?

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11 Responses to “Thinking About Kindness”

  1. Eric Schmitz Says:

    This immediately got me to think of the Rotary’s “Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do”, that is:

    * Is it the TRUTH?
    * Is it FAIR to all concerned?
    * Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
    * Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

    (http://www.rotary.org/en/aboutus/rotaryinternational/guidingprinciples/Pages/ridefault.aspx)

    I was rather unkind yesterday to a person on Facebook who did not understand the way the FB newsfeed works and whose typing idiosyncrasies I found irritating. Got called out, told to “be nice,” and I apologized. I hope to not get so far as hitting “post” on such a comment next time.

  2. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Oooh, nice link, Eric, thanks! Wasn’t familiar with that. My favourite way of dealing with that kind of thing (although I failed miserably this week, for various reasons) is to write emails without filling in the To: field, so I can’t accidentally send it. That’s a little harder on FB. I wonder if we can come up with some way of doing that …

  3. Eric Schmitz Says:

    Have to see if we can get Matt Kruse (SocialFixer, nee BetterFacebook) to work on that one. πŸ˜‰

  4. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    That would be very cool!

  5. y Says:

    This was not about kindness. I had a real shakeup re a crime – and asked myself if I could continue giving of myself to people who might have aided and abetted murderers – however repressed, frustrated, angered they might have been, nothing could have justified them. But this was about me, and I could not withhold myself because of them. It took me time, but I came back.

  6. Holly Jahangiri Says:

    YOU?

    Gosh, I can’t even imagine this… but I’ll take your word for it. You didn’t get into one of those Canada vs. US, PC vs. Mac, Windows vs. Linux things again, did you? πŸ˜‰ Hardly unforgiveable in my personal experience with you.

    At any rate, this is a good post – and I think MOST people struggle with “instant forgiveness.” I like to see a little contrition and sincere intent to “go forth and sin no more,” but forgiveness (after someone is no longer in a position to hurt you) is more about YOU than about THEM, and I think we have to do it for our own sakes, in order to move on and make room for positive emotions and people.
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted…GuiltMy Profile

  7. Lynne Thompson Says:

    “I failed to consider kindness as an overriding factor in dealing with humans.”
    This is an analytical assessment of something emtional.
    In my opinion, it is as the Book “Love is Letting Go of Fear” talks about. You can act towards people from a place of Fear or a place of Love. You can’t feel both at the same time. For whatever reason, someone made you feel bad and you acted from a place of fear. Maybe they did?
    When I have been able to turn this around, and choose to return love for fear, it has been amazing. But, hard to do! I hope you have forgiven yourself. You are a loving person Hadass…:-)

  8. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Thanks, sweetheart! This is an old post … so yes, I’ve forgiven myself in the interim. Been doing lots of growing! And I thank you for being one of my teachers.

  9. Cheron Says:

    Sometimes I write what I want to say…..then put it into the Draft File. After I have cooled off, I go back and mostly delete it, sometimes re-write and then send.

  10. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Good advice, Cheron, thanks!

  11. Cheron Says:

    Very often, we react to another because they have triggered EXACTLY the same emotion, sentiment, etc that’s found in US. It’s like looking into a mirror. What you see, is what you get.

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