When we focus our attention upon the people who dominate the headlines, we might conclude that the world is full of mean people of ill-will. As I’ve become a bit older, I still remain abreast of the news, but I purposely seek out information about people who are more positive in order to balance out the negativity. I’m drawn to people who believe in and practice compassion, gentler speech, tolerance, and kindness.
The most effective of the virtues is kindness, because kind people naturally possess the other positive qualities. Kindness is the master virtue. I have never met an authentically kind-hearted person who is not compassionate. I have yet to meet a kind-hearted person who slanders or berates others. I have not yet met a kind-hearted person who is intolerant and unaccepting.
Kindness is a surprisingly strong attribute for people to possess. On its surface, kindness just appears to be a nice, warm fuzzy thing like puppies, and kittens. However, when we examine kindness more closely, we see how much we can be affected by it. The power of authentic kindness is evident in how it affects interpersonal relationships. People find kind people to be more attractive. Kindness puts people and creatures at ease.
Being truly kind to people, animals, and the Earth reflects back to oneself with feelings of calm satisfaction. This makes kindness a fascinating dichotomy. I mean that it is one of the most selfless qualities and one of the most selfish qualities at the same time. Expressing kindness makes others feel better. Anecdotal evidence shows that when we commit an act of kindness, we feel better ourselves. Some wisdom teachers have said that the most positively selfish thing we can do is to be selflessly kind. If we want to feel wholesome and indulge selfishness at the same time, we can simply be truly kind from the heart.
“In Asian languages, the word for ‘mind’ and the word for ‘heart’ are same. So if you’re not hearing mindfulness in some deep way as heartfulness, you’re not really understanding it. Compassion and kindness towards oneself are intrinsically woven into it. You could think of mindfulness as wise and affectionate attention.”– professor emeritus of medicine, Jon Kabat-Zinn
Paying attention to our speech and actions includes paying attention to the effects of what we say and do. What we say and do influences the lives of others in important ways. People notice when we are generous, honest, self-restrained, and kind-hearted. The higher the level of kindness and respect given, will usually yield respectful kindness from others in return.
“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.”–19th century French writer, Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin aka George Sand
It’s good to remember to be kind to oneself and to others. This is one reason we celebrate Kindness Week. Then again, why restrict kindness to only one week?