Wanna Help East Texans Right Now? Practice Kindness–Really.
Right now, many of us are feeling a bit extra helpless. There's political strife, misunderstanding between friends and family, not to mention pandemics through which we're continuing to navigate.
I woke up this morning to yet another line-up of brow-furrowing, heartbreaking headlines that can tempt one to either overdose on glazed donuts, go back to bed, or to begin to feel a creeping cynicism and apathy about all of the struggles going on around the world. I tend to be a sensitive soul, so usually I know I have to mentally prepare myself before delving into what's "trending," in order to get updated without becoming emotionally paralyzed and melancholy.
Obviously, there is political division in our country. There's a pandemic going on. On top of that, we are all facing some kind of heartache or difficulty in our own personal spheres. However we feel about what's happening politically or what conclusion we tend to draw philosophically, there's one thing we need to keep in mind. We are all human. We are have people we love. Most of us want to do the best we can in our lives and for others. One of the most powerful balms to soothe almost any wounds? Kindness.
Sometimes kindness is underrated in this fast-paced, get it all done and win world we live in. Some of us have been taught that a little kindness is okay, but overdo it and people will run all over you. Some see it as out-and-out weakness. However, I don't subscribe to that point of view.
To me, meanness and/or cynicism are easier. Excluding other based on some particular issue or mindset is easier. Fanning the flames of disagreement and division is the "natural" human choice to make. It's easy to be at war with ourselves, our neighbors, our enemies. Kindness and seeking to show love where it isn't warranted is much more difficult. It takes sincere strength.
Disclaimer: I'm not advocating for a world in which kindness means we don't defend ourselves, set boundaries, and have our own voice. Kindness, to me, is more indicative of a type of grace or buffer for people in our lives--even those on whom kindness occasionally seems to be lost on them completely. Many times, those people need it the very most.
Kindness may be shown on a macro-scale, of course. However, for most of us, it's simply a way we choose to be in the world. The way we look and speak to those we love and those we encounter in our communities. It's seeking to harbor thoughts toward others that hold them in a kind of "grace" in our minds. It's not about "acting nice" on the outside.
It begins with what we allow ourselves to think in our minds. It begins with catching ourselves turning sour and choosing to turn the other way, with intent and practice. It's not as easy for some as it is for others. So if you need time to try and change to more of a kindness mindset--be patient with yourself. Show kindness to yourself, too.
Want a few practical example of how to incorporate more kindness in your life? Positivepsychology.com has some helpful ideas here.