Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary. ― J.M. Barrie
I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately. I’ve always had a visceral physical reaction to others when they struggle, especially when I see a frail old person–it touches something deep inside of me. I try to be helpful when I can, but I’ve come to understand that strife is often just a part of living.
But it got me thinking: how can I be more tender and kind to people in my life?
Not just the gas station attendant or the bank teller, but the people I’m closest to: my best friend, my sister, my love. And it’s the ones that I brush up against everyday, the ones that can often rub me the wrong way I need to remember to be the most kind to!
So, how am I tender in times of annoyance? Here are some tips I use:
1) Give it to myself first. I HAVE to be kind to myself before I can extend kindness to anyone else. That inner voice yelling at me for eating that piece of cake? That’s not kind. Finding a way to be gentle with myself makes it a lot easier to extend that courtesy to others.
2) Walk in someone else’s shoes. When I see people struggling, I think about the last horrible day I had and I just imagine that’s how they are feeling. It’s a lot easier to lend them a helping hand through that lens because I know how they feel. They may be having a horrible day of their own and that empathy leads me to be more kind.
3)Make it easy to do. Kindness doesn’t have to be giving someone half of my lottery winnings (although that would be very nice). It’s more of a willing smile. A pleasant hello. A door held open. This unexpected simple stuff is what makes people’s day.
Being kind is a necessary quality to cultivate, especially as an adult. I mean it’s pretty easy for me to resort to the grounding habits I know when the shit hits the fan; crisis makes it easy to be kind. But what about the everyday pleasantries?
Who you are is what you do on an everyday basis.
That’s how habits are formed, slow and steady. It’s what you do everyday that counts and builds character. You know that edge that we all have? That’s the sprint. Kindness is the marathon.