“Because it’s so hard to be kind to the world when all you’ve ever felt is hate. Because it’s so hard to see goodness in the world when all you’ve ever known is terror.”
― Tahereh Mafi―
Here are some things I try to do to step up my kindness when it’s really really hard.
cool – chill out. (Relax, don’t do it!) Why do we take everything
so personally? (As if the guy blocking the intersection and making us late
is trying to get us fired?) So much of our inability to be kind is
thinking that our agenda is more important than everyone else’s.
what sets you off, and be prepared. If you’re going into a
situation you know you’re going to find frustrating—crowded stores, long
meetings, family dinners, phone calls with tech support—be prepared.
with compassion. Instead of assuming the reason someone does
something that infuriates you is because they’re thoughtless or clueless
or cruel, assume it’s not the case. Suspend your judgment and keep your
heart open to the possibility that they’re having a terrible day or fighting
some battle you don’t know about.
your mouth. Corollary to #3: Don’t assume you know someone’s
whole story. Sometimes keeping your less than generous judgments to
yourself is an act of kindness.
the negativity. It’s easy to find things to complain about and
criticize: Your cousin’s wedding was nice, but the chicken was rubbery and
cold—and you feel the need to talk to everyone about it. To be kinder,
push beyond the negative, try to find the positive, then share it. Tell
people what you like about what they are wearing, doing or saying.
yourself. If you lose your cool in a situation, don’t be afraid
to stop and change gears. I was talking on the phone once to a bank
customer service person who had called me several times about the same
issue, so on the fourth call with her, I caught an attitude. I could hear
it in my voice and feel it in my face. But I thought to myself: “Don’t you
pray every day to be kind and helpful to people? Well here’s an
opportunity.” So, I owned up to my behavior right there on the phone: “I
am so sorry. I’m treating you so badly and you’re just trying to do your
job,” I said. “There’s no reason for me to act this way.”
abuse your power. When we’re in the power position, I notice we
have to work harder to be kinder.
With every move we make toward kindness, we get to check our presumptions and biases and the people on the other side of the interactions have an opportunity to adjust their preconceived notions as well. And when we move in real time to affirm the humanity of others we meet an evolving version of ourselves that makes us hopeful. Let’s all do our part as often as we can to keep our world spinning toward greater peace and possibility.