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What does it mean to be kind? Is it a response based on how others treat us? Is it something we ‘do’ around the holiday season? When we consider what it means to be kind it denotes that we have a choice to engage with kindness or not. The media has represented kindness as this rare gem that is seemingly impossible to find. We hear sayings like do one act of kindness a day or pay it forward or if you can choose to be anything, choose to be kind. All very beautiful mantras follow, yet this still perpetuates the idea that kindness is a rarity or unattainable all of the time.
Kindness begins with self. When we are not kind to ourselves or we don’t feel like we have experienced kindness, how we treat others often reflects how we feel within. Therefore the absence of kindness is a reflection of one’s inner state. Remember a time you’ve felt sad about something, how did you experience the world during that time? How did you treat others? When we do not foster kindness from within, it becomes unconscious to be unkind on the outside. This is a powerful realization as it returns the reigns of choice and control into our own hands. We can better understand how others can sometimes be unkind and acknowledge that this is a reflection of their inner state, not a reflection of me. Is it possible to be kind to someone who does not show us kindness? Absolutely. It is not only possible, it is an opening for love. Kindness is an extension of love and can alchemize any situation.
Kindness is an extension of love.
I can recall a time when I was waiting in a long line at the supermarket. The woman in front of me was complaining and cursing the new and in-training cashier. For a while I tried to ignore her profanities and negative view of the situation and then I realized that this was an opportunity for kindness. It was an opportunity to transform a seemingly negative situation into a positive one. I began chatting with the woman and offered a new perspective on the situation. In the grand scheme of things waiting in line for longer than one hoped was not big enough to disrupt our inner peace. The woman seemed surprised by the words and insight I was offering and quickly abandoned her complaints. We then began sharing stories about our families until it was our turn to check out. Time had seemingly evaporated when we stopped resisting and shifted from viewing the situation from ‘undesirable’ to being present in the moment and enjoying it for what it had to offer. Kindness was the choice I made in that moment and that choice shifted the woman whom I chose to share in the kindness with.
We will all experience moments, people and situations in our lives that call us to action. In every moment we have the opportunity to align with our heart and choose to walk in love and kindness. If we can take away a message here it is that kindness does not have to be separate from who we are, it can be the very expression of our true self. Every day we can contribute to world peace simply by making the conscious choice to be kind.