During these highly polarized times, misunderstandings can quickly escalate into dramatic disputes. Being disrespectful and mean are not only considered OK, such attitudes are encouraged by high-ranking officials, celebrities, and even some clergy. Hostility and unkindness can quickly infect cultures because it appeals to the “reptilian” brain. It’s easy to be mean because it is very reflexive.
Meantime, kindness can also have strong effects on us. However, it takes a little more effort and mindfulness in order for it to become ingrained in habitual behavior. It takes a little more effort for kindness to become a major ingredient in public discourse. In this day and age, all of us could use and share a little more kindness in order to dispel the current culture of negativity.
Expressing kindness is self-explanatory, but there are a variety of ways to feel it and spread it to others. It might be showing common courtesy to strangers, or giving a posy of flowers to a loved one. Simple gestures of kindness are more powerful than they may seem. In many instances one act of authentic compassion and kindness is enough to positively change another person’s life. Cultivating kindness and practicing it habitually, go a long way.
We’ve heard about and perhaps performed random acts of kindness. There was a random acts of kindness cultural movement that gained popularity in the 1990s. It was a “talking point” in the media with interviews, magazine articles, and bumper stickers. It was a truly refreshing, positive fad that influenced our culture for many months. In as much as nostalgia and “retro” styles are promoted these days, it would be great to have a random acts of kindness movement resurgence take place this year.
“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.”–former Nebraska Governor and U.S. Senator, Bob Kerrey
The idea was to do small favors and be kind to total strangers, not because of what they might do in return or who they are, but simply being kind because of who you are inside. We were advised to commit a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward nor even gratitude. It didn’t matter whether or not you believed in karma. The expression of kindness was done with the knowledge that it might not even result in kindness being returned to you some day in another way. After all, if kindness is performed on the basis of reward and punishment, then the kindness is less than sincere.
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”–Lucius Annaeus Seneca
After awhile, kindness becomes its own motive. We see the results of compassionate kindness, we like what we see, and we want to do more of it. By expressing compassion, we spread compassion to others, and we reinforce our own habits of kindness.
The point is, that compassion and kindness are underrated and underused in general society. It would be wonderful to turn that around and “Make America Kind Again.” It all starts individually with a compassionate heart. Have a great Monday.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”