Friday, June 9, 2017
“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” — Henry James
I have a challenge for us all that I will also take today. I hope you take it, too. The challenge (and it will be a challenge for most) is to be kind for twenty-four hours. This is going to be harder than it seems. Being a kinder person is not a simple or an easy process. Know that it will take time and effort to change your thought processes and actions. You can't fake kindness. Genuine interest equals genuine connections. Be honest and sincere with others—and yourself.
This will be difficult, but it is doable. You can disagree with people and still be kind about it and kind towards them—really. Practice being kind with pets and other inanimate objects like laptops and cell phones. Being kind means being nice to everyone, not just to the people you think can offer something back, and there are no situations where kindness is out of place. It will help if you can hold off being critical as being kind is also about making compromises and finding ways to understand each other better. Being nice opens lots of doors. Being smart, wealthy or beautiful might help, but being kind is instantly appealing.
Don’t make excuses for yourself. I’m wrestling with a dental problem that involves pain and two visits from the dentist already. I will not use that as a reason to be unkind. Being kind to one person is absolutely worth it. While the world might not notice, that one person certainly will, and it could just change their life for a moment, a day, or a lifetime! Remember, no matter how kind your children are, German children are kinder. (That's a joke as kinder is the German word for children.)
This is going to be new to some of you, so practice being nice. Try it wherever you are, in line at the bank, shopping for groceries, or and I say this seriously—at work. Being kind means being slow and deliberate in your words and actions. Life isn't about finishing first or winning anything. It’s about respect. Make a point of being nice to yourself. You are worth every bit of the respect and love that you share with the world. If you can, spend time with other kind people. Watch what they do and take notice of reactions. Take care of the people that matter the most to you. Buy a friend or a stranger coffee or pick up donuts for your coworkers. Being kind is not about doing it until you get what you want (caught myself and some of you there with me). Being nice is a lifestyle choice. You have to want to make it.
Try to respond to people regularly and respectfully; don't wait too long to reply to emails, texts or phone calls. Let others know when you have had a great experience. Compliment those who do their work with a positive attitude. Be thankful for the good things. Heck, be thankful for the average things, because they're not bad things. Here’s a kicker: assume that people are generally nice. If someone upsets you, consider that they might not have meant to hurt you—there could be something else going on. Kindness doesn’t mean being perfect, but if you screw up and upset someone, give them a heartfelt apology and move on. Don't yell when someone upsets you (this is something I have to work on). Here’s a trick: when you're mad at someone, say or write down three things you appreciate about them. Everyone is more than their faults.
Praise others. If you let them know you notice them at their best, they'll be more thoughtful at their worst.
Imagine how you think Christ would treat you when you meet Him. Now, treat others that way. Be honest and write down your successes and failures. We will talk more tomorrow. Re-reading the Sermon on the Mount might help. Also, if you ask God to help you to be kind, I suspect He will.