“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” Dalai Lama
Does kindness matter?
I think so, and there are compelling reasons to make it a priority in our lives, for the world needs it now more than ever.
A few months ago, while watching television in a hotel in the Midwestern United States, I saw a commercial for a local program which mentors the elderly.
I heard the narrator say, “One of the ways we mentor the elderly is take them out and teach them how to shoot squirrels.”
Seriously? Mindless killing of animals just to pass the time? That really breaks my heart.
Even more amazing was that this aired less than one week after the uproar over the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.
“The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” Paul Farmer
7 reasons why kindness matters
Research shows that repeated acts of kindness:
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” ~Mike Murdock
What do we call something we do daily? A habit.
Part of the work of becoming a conscious human being is looking at our habits and patterns and seeing whether they serve us . . . or hold us back.
Sometimes we do things without even knowing why.
I love the story about a mother teaching her ten year-old how to cook a roast. As part of the preparation, the mother cut the ends off the roast before putting it in the pan.
The daughter asked why and the mother replied, “Well, honey, that’s how my mother taught me to do it.”
“But why?” asked the daughter.
“Let’s call up grandma and ask her.”
So they called grandma who replied, “Well, that’s how my mother taught me to do it.”
Next they called great-grandma who gave them her reason: “So it would fit in the pan.”
That isn’t a habit that will hold that family back [other than wasting a good piece of meat].
But it’s an example of things we do without even thinking about it. Perhaps the reason for it has long passed.
I recently heard a Chinese saying about Western culture: “People in the West are always getting ready to live.”
That made me stop and reflect on how much time I have spent “getting ready” for the next direction I want to go in my life.
A fair amount of time, actually. And much of it was wasted time.
In fact, much of it was merely procrastination.
That is why I’ve taken to heart a phrase I heard last year by Steven Pressfield: “Start before you’re ready.”
Do you rush around “getting ready” to find the perfect mate, find the perfect job or house or car?
Or start that creative project?
Do you wait for conditions to be just right to start something new? I used to think I had to create the perfect office environment before I could start writing.
There’s no such thing!
Do you delay taking vacation time until you can afford to go to Paris? When there are perfectly interesting cities and places nearby?
Don’t let excuses hold you back!
Encouraging a child to earn their own money does more than teach them responsibility. It gives them the confidence to tackle anything. In this lovely excerpt from “The Wind Is My Mother,” Bear Heart tells the story of his first job: earning money planting cotton.
My dad taught me to hitch a team of horses to a wagon and a plow when I was eight years old and when I was ten he gave me two acres of land, saying, “If you want to plant something, go ahead. If you don’t plant anything, let it grow wild. Maybe some rabbits will come, feed upon the plant life and you can kill a rabbit to have something to eat. It’s your choice.”
Don’t let it sit idle, let it yield something — that’s what he was teaching me.
So I planted two acres of cotton — it was good cotton, my very own, but I had to work it and do all the plowing. I knew which plowshare to use if I wanted to plow deeper and I knew how to plow between each row to lessen the weeds from coming up.
I tied the lines to the horses behind my back — when I hit a root or a rock under the ground it would pull me forward and I’d hit the cross bar on the handles of the plow. Often I’d fall but I’d dust myself off and keep going on.
When the cotton grew up, I’d check each boll to see if there were any boll weevils in there and, if there were, we didn’t have any spray, but at least we could pray.
I just watched former President Jimmy Carter’s May 2015 TED talk entitled, “Why I believe the mistreatment of women is the number one human rights abuse.”
It’s riveting and enlightening [in a dark sort of way]. And it’s something we all need to know about if we are to eliminate such major abuses around the world. Just 16 minutes long, it’s well worth a watch.