“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” — Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
The dictionary defines kindness as the act of doing goodwill toward others, of being considerate and helpful.
In short, it means being nice. To our spouses, family members, neighbors. To all fellow human beings.
Kindness is fundamental to the world’s major religions. The Buddhist metta combines goodwill, friendship, kindness and benevolence and is considered the first of four sublime states. A verse in the Old Testament says, “Those who are kind benefit themselves, but those who are cruel bring ruin on themselves.” Paul implores Christians in the New Testament to “Clothe yourselves with … compassion, kindness … meekness and patience … forgiving others as the Lord forgave you.” The Prophet Muhammad said, “The believers, in their love, mercy and kindness to one another are like a body: if any part of it is ill, the whole body shares its sleeplessness and fever.”
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Though spiritual leaders have been touting kindness for millennia, it remains in perilously short supply. Election rhetoric has fomented hatred. Couples spew horrible words at their supposed loved ones. Drivers honk and insult other drivers. Students bully classmates via Facebook.
There’s simply no excuse for it.
Being kind is the simplest of gestures. It doesn’t require special equipment. It can be done without writing a check. It doesn’t even take any time.
Instead, kindness begins with a choice to be respectful and loving. Then allowing our actions to reflect that change. We’ll immediately feel better about our behavior. And the world will be an imminently better place.
Linda Lewis Griffith’s column is special to The Tribune. She is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit www.lindalewisgriffith.com.
Being nice: Here are 10 tips to ensure you’ll be kind all the time
- Curb your anger. Unchecked anger inevitably leads to hurtful words and actions. Disengage from conflict wherever possible. Count to 10 (or 100) before opening your mouth.
- Share with others. Take dinner to a new mother. Give produce from your garden. Volunteer your time at the animal shelter.
- Be a good listener. You needn’t solve others’ problems or worry about giving good advice. Being fully present is usually enough.
- Compliment others’ efforts. They’re most likely doing their best. They’ll appreciate your kind words.
- Express gratitude. There’s so much to be thankful for in your life. Focus on what’s good.
- Give to someone without any expectations. Do it simply to be kind.
- Let go of judgments. Judgments direct your attentions on displeasing people and events. Replace them with topics that bring a smile to your face.
- Forgive others’ transgressions. Don’t bring up your partners’ past misdeeds. Heal as quickly as possible, then move on.
- Do a kind, anonymous act. Put money in an expired meter or help someone load groceries into their car. Two people will be pleased with your actions.
- Be polite. Saying “please,” “thank you” and “excuse me” demonstrate respect for others in your presence.