“My religion is Kindness.”~ Dalai Lama
In our world today we have many figure heads. Many leaders of courtries and many prominent personalities. But, how many of them are we truly happy with?
When I ask this question to anyone, I always get the answer that, ‘not happy, but what can we do?’
Back in my University days, I had a project that I needed to submit on “The Power of Human Kindness”. As part of the project we needed to present factual findings and surveys to prove our hypothesis.
One of the major questions I asked as part of that project to people around was, ‘Who would you choose as a world leader if you had the choice, from anyone living or dead?’…the answer still astounds me.
Almost 90% of them responded The Dalai Lama as their choice of living leader. Another greater percentage responded with Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), Jesus, Moses, Gandhi, Mandela or Mother Teresa as their choices from the dead.
I was not surprised by the result but my university professors were. Apparently, this was the very first time that the top choice was someone who was perceived as both a political leader and spiritual leader.
This made me wonder, what is the common thread woven through each of the roles that these esteemed souls played?
The answer came quickly: Kindness.
Kindness transcends all boundaries and borders
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.
Like the Dalai Lama, all the personalities of choice were all key points in history when human kindness and positive change was at its epitome. Infact during the time of Muhammad(pbuh), Moses and Jesus the major changes in society came due to them emphasizing greatly on peace, compassion, equality and kindness for all souls. They strived to give women rights when the whole world treated them as dispensable. History is proof of their efforts and their work.
Similarly, Mandela and Gandhi, while being in politics never got their hands dirty. They strived for peace, kindness, and equality. They forever left their mark as leaders who brought great change through kindness and non-violence.
Mother Teresa, lived in the service of humanity. She helped and healed bodies and souls no one wanted to touch. She was an epitome of kindness and spent her whole life in the service of it.
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.
Are YOU Kind?
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 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.
3 Simple Ways to Be Kind Everyday
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:
1} Minimize the “I”
Make an intention as soon as you wake up in the morning, to 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 enough about others. Set an intention to speak about yourself less often. Minimize the “I” in your vocabulary.
2} Make Eye Contact
Eye contact seems to have become a very rare commodity these days. I recall when I moved to Mumbai city all those years back and was experiencing a sort of overwhelm, a close 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 or the inanimate objects 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 safety of Hyderabad where people looked at one another and smiled. Or did they? I began to take notice…that it wasn’t the city or the people. It was me that made the effort to make eye contact there and that should not need to change because the city changed. And then suddenly, as I began to look up at the people, making eye contact, smiling..Mumbai seemed like a lovely little town, with way too many people. But a kinder town at that.
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 are 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.
3} Random Acts of Kindness
Once we begin 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 heart-felt ‘Thank You’ when one is held open for you. Offering up the closer parking space. Randomly sending a bag of goodies to the family who you know needs it in the neighbourhood. 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. They have slowly and steadily become my mantra for life:
“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.”
What are your favorite ways to be kind everyday? Do share your wisdom in comments. I would love to learn from you.
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