“Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.”
- Charles Glassman
Treating others with kindness is something we learn at an early age. We are taught the basics of how to be polite by saying please and thank you. Then we learn about generosity and helping others. Being kind becomes more natural for some than others. We also learn that some people rarely choose to be kind, if ever. As we get older, our display of kindness may fluctuate depending on who we are interacting with. We may also reserve our kindness for those who we feel have earned it from us, with less regard for those who could possibly use it the most.
I did not fully understand the concept of “kill them with kindness” until I reached adulthood. I did not fully implement it until I was around 30 years old. I found this certain power in being nice to people who may have been expecting me to respond to their anger or contempt with negativity. This was not some front I had to put up. I started coming from a place of Love. I wanted to understand them, not argue with them. I developed the awareness to not take their actions personally. I started remembering myself as a teeenager and young adult. I saw my dark side that I have worked so hard to shine more light on.
Working recently in a transitional housing program for 18–25 year-olds and a group home for teenage boys has helped me to develop more compassion and empathy for people who sometimes do not have many reasons to be kind to anyone, and I understand why. Learning about some of the environments these young individuals have endured makes my struggles growing up seem like minor setbacks and manageable obstacles. I found that by not taking the bait when they want to be defiant or push my buttons, they are less likely to persist with that attitude. Hopefully, it’s also showing them how empowering taking the high road can be.
We have all endured our hardships to varying degrees throughout life. We have been on the giving and receiving end of kindness and felt it’s rewards from both sides. When we acknowledge this, we can see the value in spreading more kindness around, especially toward those who could use it the most. It became more effortless for me once I started responding more from my heart than my head. It also vastly improved my quality of life. This is where we can all find value in taking a more kind-hearted approach to all of our interactions.
From Subatomic Zen: A daily wellness blog blending Spirit and science