Each Thanksgiving, I find myself having some apprehension about getting together with family.
As I reflect on past interactions during these times, it isn’t a case of not being polite but rather a case of not being kind.
Using terms such as “please and thank you” certainly smooth out conversations and help others feel as you are attuned to them. These terms however reflect politeness rather than kindness.
One way of distinguishing kindness from politeness is to think of kindness as an action and politeness as statements.
Kindness however has longer term consequences. It builds connection and engagement.
Think about the people in your life you remember most fondly. In my case, it was those that were kindest to me. It was individuals who did things to help me get better tomorrow rather than making me feel good in the moment.
Kindness isn’t always easy.
A recent study surveyed American parents on what they wanted for their kids and 90% stated they want their children to be caring. Yet, when they asked children what their parents wanted for for them, 81% stated their parents valued achievement and happiness over caring.
This disconnect is a reflection of the idea that we want to be kind in theory, yet we don’t spend time actually practicing it. It certainly is not pervasive when our kids don’t see it in action.
If we want others to be kind to us, it starts with us being kind to others and ourselves.
One way to start internally is to repeat phrases to yourself such as:
May I be kind with myself
May I trust that I am doing my best
May I cultivate patience with myself
When we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, it Is easier to give it to others. When we are of service to others it is has the potential to multiply.
Kindness means that you see someone for the person they are and can become.
During the holidays, incidents will occur where I find myself irritated. This year I will try and notice these moments and say to myself “Let me see if I can actually be kind”.
This Thanksgiving, my objective is to go beyond being nice and to act with kindness and find ways that I can be of service to those I do not see regularly.
Failures of kindness are not a regret I want for my life.
This means consciously choosing to act from a place of compassion for others (and ourselves) especially if you do not feel the urge to want to.
As with everything we want to get better at, it requires practice. The goal is to give kindness instinctively.
It doesn’t matter if your intentions are doubted or if you look weak or vulnerable.
Doing something nice because you can, will not only brighten someone else’s day, it will brighten yours.
Will you join me?
If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. Jack Kornfield
We usually know what the kind thing to do is -- and kindness when it is done to us, and register its absence when it is not...Barbara Taylor & Adam Philips book “On Kindness”