So I’ve been thinking about how I can do this. I could observe more and judge less, paying closer attention with my eyes and ears. Listening to people is a kindness that builds trust and positive feelings. I could smile more. When I moved to a small upstate NY town to go to school people I’d never seen before smiled at me in grocery store parking lots and I remember how much it brightened my day. I could be more patient with myself and with others. I could eat healthier and exercise more, and be more generous with encouragement for myself and others. I can offer to help where help is needed by listening, volunteering, donating or lending a hand.
Kindness is an interpersonal skill that can test our best intentions. There are times being kind requires being less reactive, and I will have opportunities to practice inhibition and redirection in order to make a more conscious choice how I respond. When something that is less than kind is in my thoughts, or even on the tip of my tongue, I can remember to let it go into the air without the aid of my vocal chords. It is nowhere mandated that I give voice to every thought. And I need to be forgiving of myself for not having perfect thoughts.
Being kind does not give license to avoid the truth. It does not mean ignoring problems, but rather learning to express what I see with loving kindness, gentleness, and humor so it can strengthen my relationships. Karyn Hall in her blog, Pieces of Mind, wrote, "Receiving accurate feedback in a loving and caring way is an important part of a trusted relationship. The courage to give and receive truthful feedback is a key component of growth.”
I’m sure I will discover more ways to practice kindness if I simply hold the intention of compassion as I move through my days. May this new year bring all of us more peace, love and happiness.