Kindness is woven into the fabric of our lives. When we were children, parents and teachers encouraged us to be kind to others. We learned how to share and not to call people mean things or hit them. We learned to include everybody in the games that we played. We learned to be polite and use our manners. If we had taken all of these social lessons to heart, and practiced them with the importance they deserve, we would all be happy adults. Unfortunately, even if we learned the lessons, we may have forgotten how they continue to apply to our lives. We have to remind ourselves to make kindness a priority. When we practice being kind to others we help them as we help ourselves. When we practice being kind to ourselves, misery fades and happiness flourishes.
Practicing kindness is a full time occupation. In every interaction, we have an opportunity to share kindness with others. As we walk down the street we can show our kindness to others by walking with a smile. When we interact with people in our daily business, we can share kindness by recognizing that the people we are dealing with are separate from our business transactions. If we go to a restaurant and the soup we ordered is cold, we can either react with or without kindness. If we choose to react without kindness we might get angry, demand to see the manager, and complain about how the temperature of our soup has ruined our day. Without kindness, our server, the manager, and the chef may become upset also. If we practice kindness, we can still ask for a warmer bowl of soup, but we will not be so aggravated, our meal will not be ruined, and the staff will feel better. When we confuse the people that we interact with, with the function that they perform we can forget to be kind, and misery can find a foothold.
Practicing kindness to ourselves is essential for happiness. If we learn to be kind to ourselves, in our thoughts and in our actions, we will naturally be kind to others. When we are kind to ourselves, if others are not kind to us, we will not take it so personally. Being kind to ourselves begins in our thoughts. We have to understand that we are essentially wonderful human beings, who deserve every kindness life may offer. Being kind in our thoughts means that when we make a mistake, we do not berate ourselves, but simply recognize that we made a mistake. Being kind in our actions means to treat ourselves to good food when we are hungry and ample rest when we are tired. If we consistently treat ourselves with kindness we will then expect others to treat us with kindness. When people do not live up to our expectations, we will immediately recognize that we deserve better, and not feel so hurt by their shortsightedness.
When we expect kindness from life, we will recognize the kindness that surrounds us. We will notice the smiles on strangers’ faces and already be smiling in return. We will naturally provide ourselves with the kindness we deserve. The more kindness we practice, the more our misery will make way for happiness.
From the book, The ABCs of Misery and Happiness. Coming soon.