There are many reasons for kindness. Today I just want to focus on the notion that kindness brings joy into your life. Whether you feel you learned it as a child or on your own, showing kindness is often seen either as cowardly or manipulative. Do you think that ‘kind’ people are just the ‘losers’ who have no power and thus have no choice but to be kind. Our mainstream society in the United States as well as many other socieites throughout the world is often not kind. It is demanding, competitive, mean, and often violent. We have only to turn on the daily news on the television or read it on the internet to see what is going on. It happens among friends, within families, in work groups. I have seen it professional training programs and even undergraduate studies where the idea is not to teach and prepare students but to weed them out. After many years of working as a Mental health professional , I know mental illness when I see it and ‘weeding out’ students has more to do with working out one’s own issues than anything else. It is definitely not an act of kindness for students nor for the people who they will eventually serve when they become professionals.
Many, no matter how bright, how intelligent a person is, as this has nothing to do with intelligence, have never considered the results of their labors of meanness, of competition, of winning at any cost, or just the sheer ‘enjoyment’ of succeeding at making someone feel bad to ‘show them’ that I am…what is it now that I am…powerful enough to make someone cry, to embarrass them, to weed them out, to make their life miserable. How does that makes one happy? And what is it we are trying to gain? Is that the only way we think we will be happy? Of course, the answer is, one will never be happy with that type of behavior, but our cultural instincts leads us to believe it will . It is more of an addictive pattern and as with all addictions, it only brings a temporary sense of relief, not anywhere near joy and happiness.
There is one time of the year, however, when we are allowed to put it all aside, to give to others, being thankful , grateful and rejoicing and feeling happy,sharing it with others. That of course is happening now. This time of year starts with Thanksgiving and continues to Christmas or what we Pagans would call Yule or Winter Solstice and perhaps for many of us on to the New Year’s celebrations. Right now it is ‘popular’ and acceptable to be kind to others. We are taught to put aside our usual meanness, pettiness, competitiveness or whatever mean traits we have large or small, and become a cheerful person who gives to others. In other words, kindness is now allowed. Think about that for a moment. Do you enjoy this time of year, do you wait for it to come, and are you happy when it finally does come? Are you happy when you give a gift to someone who enjoys receiving it? Do you enjoy finding gifts for others? Do you enjoy providing for others, whether it is a meal, bringing a dish, a beautiful home for you family or what is it you actually do enjoy, especially during this time of year? There must be something. Even if you enjoy showing others how much better or powerful or successful you are than they, you know the feeling of cheer, if only temporarily. But wait, if you only know that feeling when you succeed, how do you feel when you don’t. Life is a mixed bag of successes and failures for everyone. If you only brag about your successes are you hiding all the inevitable failures that happen on the way while doing the work towards a successful completion. Have you considered that failure means you are trying and thus is a part of the package? Have you considered that NOT failing means you’re probably not doing anything worthwhile? (Though perhaps you are still too young to have found out about it. If you are still in the 20’s decade you may have not yet had this experience.) But if you are not even trying, you are now or about to become quite depressed.
Consider this, the wisest people have told us that true happiness only comes when we give to others. And that is all kindness really is. Success, prosperity, slim, healthy body, etc., these are all fine things to have but if we can’t give to others, outside of our own private groups, we will never be truly happy. So what is your goal in life? If it does not involve first being kind to others, it is of no result in the end. Let’s make a true difference in our world. You know the saying, “random acts of kindness.” Let’s bring Kindness back into style. And while you’re at it, have a lot of fun and enjoy yourself. You’ll find fun, cheer and even happiness shows up in your life with no trouble at all. Now how’s that for being happy.
(As for me, walking funny in the parking lot, singing, drumming and dancing with my 6-year-old granddaughter is the most fun I’ve ever had!)
Copyright © 2012 by Ellen Bergstrom