When I was a kid, there were times I felt like my kindness was a weakness. I got picked on by other kids, and often enough that I felt isolated. I got picked on because I was deaf and also because I was a nice enough guy that I didn’t fight back. Perhaps that’s just too nice.
Yet I am human, and imperfect. I have a temper, but I am pretty skilled at keeping myself from a temper outburst. I was better before I became a parent.
My younger son often likes to say, “Tell the truth.” He says this with the word truth a little drawn out: Troo-ooth. At least, that’s how it appears to me when he says it. I can’t help but be charmed.
I promised myself that when I write on this blog, I’d do my best to be authentic. To tell the truth. To avoid putting on some false idea of who I am as a person. So that’s why, when I write about kindness today, I want to be honest. I think honesty helps us grow.
I am not kind to myself.
I have spent more than half of my lifetime not being kind to myself. I think most people can relate, but not everyone wants to admit it.
I judge myself daily, pretty much from the time I wake up until when I go to bed. I have that constant nagging voice in my head, reminding me of my failures. Reminding me that I am not who I want to be. It’s no mystery, really, and not a secret. I just want to be better. I want to be a better writer, one who feels energized to write daily. I want to be a better father, one who doesn’t lose his temper after so much whining. I want to be a disciplined person who eats well, exercises regularly, meditates daily, and so on and so on.
None of these desires are inherently a bad thing. The problem is I’m not kind to myself about these things. If I was talking to someone who said any of this, I’d be kind to that person. I’d be showing support. I’d be giving words of encouragement. I would not be making that person feel worse. I would not be emphasizing that person’s failings, but instead would highlight the successful things about a person.
Sometimes success is as simple as being kind to a person. Sometimes success is being kind to the Earth, picking up litter. Or success is being kind to a rock, picking it up and caressing it before you skim it across a pond, because all a rock would want to do is be appreciated, if a rock had feelings.
The jury’s still out on that one.
When I was sitting in my Unitarian Universalist Fellowship service last night, we were all sitting in a circle of kindness. You could just sense how much we cared about the people we were with. There were easy smiles and easier laughs shared.
I know what my personal answer is to the dilemma of not being kind enough to myself, but I still find it difficult to implement. I must practice. I must, every single day, put to practice the act of being kind to myself. I must put to practice the act of being kind for kindness’ sake. For my own sake.
Everything and everyone is precious. Everything and everyone is deserving. Humanity can be both beautiful and ugly, with acts of kindness and acts of hatred. Yet everything, and I mean everything, is deserving of kindness. Everything and everyone is deserving of our compassion, no matter how difficult it would be to offer it.
I’ll end this post with a link. This is a clip to a movie, a documentary called Human. It’s actually the first story, and it’s powerful. It’s an example of how kindness can touch the hearts of those we might have thought would not welcome such kindness.
Check it out HERE.
So, I dare you. I dare you to find ways to be kind that you’ve never done before. To Yourself. To Others. To Animals. To Plants. To Earth. To Everything.