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Kindness Matters

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Please Note: This is a guest article by a very dear spiritual soul and someone I truly admire – Janice Lynn Lundy. Please read more about her at the end of this article.

In 2008, the Gallup poll revealed our choice of the world leader we admired the most. I was not surprised by the result—His Holiness the 15th Dalai Lama—but the creators of the poll were. Apparently, this was the very first time that our top choice was someone who was perceived as both a political leader and a religious leader. This made me wonder, what is the common thread woven through each of these roles that this esteemed man plays? The answer came quickly: Kindness.

In fact, the Dalai Lama himself has said this repeatedly, “My religion is kindness.” He has also been quick to add that he believes kindness—along with its cohort, compassion—is at the root of all the world’s spiritual traditions. In fact, even if you do not consider yourself to be a particularly religious person, kindness would likely still form the bedrock of how you relate to others.

Kindness transcends all boundaries and borders; permeates all walls and wounds. Kindness connects us, no matter what we believe, where we live, or how we earn a living. Kindness is the common language we speak as human beings. A smile, a generous gesture, an act of caring transcends all our differences. Kindness is the key to a life well lived. Kindness matters.

Do you consider yourself to be a kind person? Do you generally respond well to the people you meet on a day-to-day basis? Are you open and receptive, hospitable, especially when others do not seem so kind themselves?

These are important questions to ask ourselves now, especially with the state of world as it is—when communities and families are struggling to maintain equanimity. It is easy to lose focus and move away from kindness. We become self-absorbed, stressed, overwhelmed, worried, or fearful. Our first thought in any number of situations may be, ‘What about me?’

In truth, taking the focus off ourselves and placing it on the well-being of others can shift our preoccupation—and our own pain. Thinking of another first and how we might enhance his or her day can brighten our own. This is what I understand His Holiness the Dalai Lama vows to do on a moment-to-moment basis. His focus is not upon how he can make himself feel better, but how his presence or words might uplift another. Kindness can be the cure for what ails us.

So how can we be more kind? What can we do to keep our hearts open to one another, to keep the well-being of others in the forefront of our thoughts? I’d like to offer these heart-opening suggestions:

Notice the “I”

Beginning first thing in the morning, notice what words you speak. How often do your sentences begin with the word “I”? Try and catch yourself doing this. Then try to stop yourself from speaking about you. When we use “I” so often, that’s a tip-off that we are thinking an awful lot about ourselves and, likely, not about others. Set an intention to speak about yourself less often. Minimize the “I” in your vocabulary.

Take a Good Look

Eye contact seems to have become a scarce commodity these days. I recall when I visited New York City a well-meaning friend offered a piece of advice about staying safe. “Don’t’ look at anyone,” she said. “You’ll be fine.” Well, I took her advice and avoided all eye contact, looking down at the sidewalk the entire time. I felt as if I was insulating myself from the world, literally, cutting myself off from my fellow human beings. I believed that the most important thing was to keep myself safe, that other people did not matter. They became invisible to me. I hated the whole experience and couldn’t wait to get back to safe little Grand Rapids where people looked at one another and smiled. Or did they? I began to take notice …

When we’re engaged in the busyness of everyday life we may be moving so quickly that we do not really see one another. We do not greet each other eye-to-eye. I witness this most often while in the grocery store. The check out person may not even look at me, nor I her, if I do not make a concerted effort to do so. Though we in close proximity, we are amazingly invisible to one another.

I invite you to slow down, take a good look, and truly see the other. Make eye contact, smile, or acknowledge his or her presence with a genuine ‘Hello.’ An act as simple as this can put us back in touch with the unique presence and well-being of another.

Random Acts of Kindness

Once we have begun to slow down and really notice people, we may feel compelled to offer a kindness of some kind, especially if we see that they themselves are disconnected from others. By reconnecting through a kind act, we may facilitate an opening of their eyes, their heart, by a demonstration of our own.

Simple gestures speak boldly of kindness. A door held open; a hearty ‘Thank You’ when one is held open for you. Offering up the closer parking space. Randomly putting change in someone’s expired parking meter. Providing the small change someone doesn’t have to pay his or her grocery bill. The list is endless. Be creative and create a kindness list of your own. Ask yourself, what very simple thing could I do right now to show kindness to this person? Then, do it!

I try to keep myself attuned to acts of kindness by rereading these powerful words by Mother Teresa daily …

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of (God’s) kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

Kindness does matter. In fact, in the grand scheme of life, it may be the only thing that does …

About the Author:
Janice Lynne Lundy is an Interfaith Spiritual Director, retreat leader, magazine columnist, and the author of four self-help/spiritual growth books, the newest being Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be. She is also the woman behind Buddha Chick™. Visit her website, AwakenedLiving.com, and her award-winning blog, AwakeisGood.com, recently named as one of 2010’s Top 50 Buddhist Blogs. You can find her and Buddha Chick™ on Facebook.

Dearest Janice, Thank you for sharing your Wisdom, your insight and your pure soul here. I just know, what you share here will touch many hearts.

Dearest Reader- Now its your turn to share what you think about this beautiful article. How has kindness mattered in Your life? What ways do you use to induce kindness in your life? Share your wisdom in the comments below.

With Immense Love & Gratitude,
~Zeenat~

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Author: Zeenat {PositiveProvocations.com}

Counseling Psychologist/ Spiritual Counselor/Motivational Speaker/Naturopath/Holistic Healer/Writer

17 thoughts on “Kindness Matters

  1. Hi Zeenat and Janice,

    Very nice article. Kindness is such an important thing for us humans. We have to always be kind to others whether through helping someone, smile at someone, praying for someone, etc… It is such a great feeling. Thanks for sharing

  2. Hi Zeenat and Janice

    Yes being kind is a value we all must embrace to help ourselves feel good and make the world a better place. Love The Randon acts of kindness, something to remember it’s the small things that can make a big difference
    namaste
    in kindness
    Suzie

  3. Zeenat, YOU are so kind to have me here and give us a forum for talking about kindness.

    Dia, kindness really is a great feeling, to give and to receive. Nice to meet you!

    Suzie, kuduos to you too. Do small things with great love, said Mother Teresa. May we all!

  4. Kindness….Such a simple thing, isn’t it? And yet often overlooked. Nice reminder of how a simple act of kindness can make a big difference in someone else’s life. Thank you! : )
    Sandy

  5. The Mother Theresa quote is quite poweful- a wonderful life goal!
    It reminds me of two things. First- something I used to do when I used to have an office job. When the phone rang, no matter what I was doing, I would stop and smile a big smile before I picked up the phone. It really helped to put me in a good frame of mind. The quote makes me realize that it’s something that would work well in other forms of communications, as well as with life in general.
    And second: It reminds me of my Girl Scout days, and the goal to leave a place better than how you found it. It would be very empowering if they were to extended that motto to relationships too!

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  7. This is lovely. I like to smile randomly at people in the street, some think I’m a bit odd, but most smile back and it seems a little bit of joy has passed between us.
    I’ve never been to NY, but the London Underground trains are similar – people will study their newspapers, posters, look out the window, at their shoes, but making eye contact is just unheard of!

  8. Jan, thank you for writing this beautiful post, and Zeenat, thank you for featuring Jan!

    Eye contact – that’s a big one for me, and something I notice myself trying to do more. I realized that true eye contact is an intimate thing to give and receive from another. The eyes are the window to the soul, and perhaps if more of us engaged in these intimate eye contact exchanges, our world would blossom more soulfully. It’s hard for me – sometimes I feel like I’m being “caught” or I get shy or I’m unsure of myself. So eye contact makes me feel vulnerable with strangers. But I’m learning, dear Jan, and when I do make myself vulnerable like that, the rewards I get are remarkable.

    Love to you, and love to Beautiful Zeenat!

  9. Sandy, nice to meet you! Yes, kindness is very overlooked and underrated. I am glad you are in touch with its value.

    Coleen, kindness in the workplace always touches my heart. Nice to know that you were smiling to others in your heart and voice.

    Kate, random smiling is great fun, isn’t it? I like to do it too. Yes, sometimes people think it is a little odd, but mostly it generates connection. 🙂

    Megan,
    Hello friend. Nice to see you here. I’ve always loved the idea of the eyes being the window of the soul. And may our hearts shine through!

  10. Kindness and compassion – they add such beauty to our living experiences. My parents always taught us to think of others, to extend ourselves to others, to look to ease others’ discomforts and to assist them in their needs. It’s such a natural thing because it’s how I was raised. My granddaughters laugh because I talk to everyone; I compliment the sales clerk on her earrings … and she shares a story of how they were passed down in her family. I talk to a couple enjoying lunch at Disneyland … and they tell me about their engagement. People are just so wonderful when we see them through the eyes of kindness!

  11. Rose, we sound very much alike. Dharma Sisters! I was raised the same way. I hold in my heart a mantra offering by my dear friend, Mari. I try to uphold…”May I always err on the side of love.” Blessings to you!

  12. “Kindness transcends all boundaries and borders; permeates all walls and wounds.”

    That’s a beautiful way of putting it Janice!

    I believe anyone can become a “better” person. All it takes is good intentions and a pinch of awareness…

  13. Hi Zeenat and Jan,
    I feel deeply blessed because I receive kindness every single day, not only from my family and friends who visit in person, but from people all around the world who stop by and visit my blog!!! It’s amazing. I in turn send messages of kindness in return. Often I will send an email to a friend at random, just to say “hello, I’m thinking of you and praying that you are feeling comfortable and happy in this moment.” Small kindnesses make a huge difference for both the giver and the receiver.

    thank you dear ones for this beautiful heart opening post.
    gentle steps

  14. Hi Zeenat .. good to see Jan here – both of you two wise women together …

    It is kindness and compassion that maketh ‘man’ … being aware of others and their needs .. not as you so rightly say I, I, I …

    It’s so essential .. being a part of a Nursing Home where my mother resides .. I’m acutely aware that some of the residents get left out .. now I hope that I can make some free time .. I want to give back to them – as they don’t have many or any visitors .. I can do this when my mother is sleeping ..

    I do spend time with their relatives too .. just those little extras make such a difference ..

    Thanks so much for having Jan over here .. lovely to see you both at once! .. Go forward with kindness and compassion .. and a smile .. and a hug from me .. cheers Hilary xoxoxo

  15. Axel,
    Nice to meet you. We think alike! It is always wise to see the best in people and invite them to do so as well. 🙂

    Laura,
    Yes, small kindnesses. And I am always so grateful to receive yours! Sending some back to you and well wishes for ease for you today…

    Hilary,
    I do imagine you sharing kindnesses with others in the nursing home. What a blessing that is – and you are!

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