from an old newsletter:
“Be kind in all things.”
~ Michael Cavallaro, The 55 Concepts
I was watching an old movie the other night about a man who finds Shangri la, the mythical earthly paradise where human beings live in harmony with nature and with each other. I was startled when the host of the country said: “We have only one rule in Shangri la – Be kind.”
As I look at all I’ve learned over the past few year (and there has been much!) I find the one thing that has changed my life more than anything else is exactly that Concept: Be kind.
I would have told you that I was always a kind person, and I think most of the people around me would agree. Yet when I decided to live “be kind” as my motto I was embarrassed to find there was a lot to work on.
One was at home. Most of us can go out in the world and be “on” and keep a persona in place. When we come home its a different matter. After all, aren’t people at home supposed to love us regardless? I found myself deficient in “please” and “thank you”‘s. My tone of voice didn’t always convey kindness. It was like I came home, kicked off my shoes and kicked off my manners too.
Changing that changed a lot. It changed the atmosphere, it changed my level of appreciation, and it changed the relationship I had with my family. Such a little thing…
I also realized I wasn’t always kind was when was in a hurry. Grocery lines, traffic, cashiers, I may not have been nasty, but there were times that couldn’t be defined as kind.
Changing those changed my experience in those situations and the experience of the people I encountered. People seemed more pleasant, more willing to go the extra mile, I became less stressed, less tense, and even though I might still be in a hurry, happier. Amazing!
The biggest difference though was being kind to myself. Kind to myself when I didn’t follow through, reach the goal, or measure up to my own standards. Kind when I did something foolish, or didn’t measure up to someone else’s standards. Kind at those times when it would be so much easier to beat myself up.
What about when I didn’t feel kind? In the beginning I found myself “acting” kind, even though I didn’t feel it. Acting kind because it was the right thing to do (or because it was part of the work I was doing on myself!). Over time the feelings followed.
So often we overlook wisdom because we find it so ridiculously simple. If I hadn’t been given “be kind” as “homework” I think I would have glossed over it, paid it lip service, shrugged it off. I’m so glad that’s not what happened. I can honestly say that because of those two words my life is hugely different today – more joy than I could have imagined.
If you’re looking for a theme for the year, something that will change your life, something where the results will last longer than the latest and greatest diet fad, try “be kind.” Put a post it on your bathroom mirror, in your car, on your desk at work. Invite a friend to experiment with you, share your results. Change won’t happen over night, but if you really put it to the test the results will last forever. I’d love to hear your results!