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Posts from the ‘Kindness’ Category

In Kindness Rather than In Kind

“Every day brings new choices.” – Martha Beck

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” – Saint Basil

I have had many conversations in my head with others, things I want to say to “set the record straight,” to “put them in their place,” to “lay it on the line.” Fortunately, I’ve kept most of those where they belong – unsaid. When they’ve escaped and actually came out, regret usually followed. At times, it is appropriate to not be a doormat as well and to speak our own voice.

Our choice is between reacting “in kind” – returning what’s given to us, especially the negativity and criticism or responding “in kindness” – by not returning the same so we don’t turn into that which we want to avoid. Complaint, negativity and criticism are rampant and only create a downward spiral. Gratitude, optimism and hope offer an alternative and multiplies rather than substracts, a whirlwind upward, a deep well to draw from.

So little of what people serve us in negativity, complaint and consternation has anything to do with us. When we take it personally, we allow them to steal our joy. That person who cut you off, the coworker who has a bad attitude and shares it every time you interact with her/him so you do everything to avoid her/him, the family member or friend who triggers that 10 year old in you are all carrying their own burdens and struggles. When we understand this, we have arrived at empathy and understanding and can move out from that place rather than the “what about me?” hole.

Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements are simple rules and principles to follow that can help us respond “in kindness” rather than “in kind,” freeing us from the power and winds of external forces that we allow to permeate our internal state of joy and peace:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions.
  4. Always Do Your Best.

As Maya Angelou said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” We can choose to respond with empathy, understanding, positivity and optimism to combat negativity and model a different path that creates contentment and joy, which is in short supply right now.

Choose mindfully and with forethought the energy that you put out into the world. You can be that thread of hope, that beam of light, that source of joy that someone desperately needs from you now.

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” – Stephen Grellet

Mirrors and Souls

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” George Bernard Shaw

Look into the mirror first before pointing it at others. Deep into your own eyes, beyond the surface of being judge, prosecutor and jury, to your very soul, with kindness and understanding. Quiet the critic and advice-giver to gently examine and fully observe your whole life, blessings and burdens, progress and detours, full inventory. Gratitude over griping.

Criticism has never grown a flower. Light, dark, nature, nurture, water, patience and time are the ingredients for full bloom.

“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” – Thomas Carlyle

When you have gone beyond the surface of the mirror through the door of your eyes to your soul, you are prepared to hold up a mirror for, not at, others to show them their own soul and light within. That is the purpose and the gift of the mirror.

Self-awareness, self-acceptance and love are the roots of empathy, healing and purpose. This individual lifetime journey will transform the world as we each discover our interconnectedness, the “we” beyond the “me,” the “us” and not the “other,” our similarities and the beauty in our differences.

Mirror and soul work – light the candle, be the mirror.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” – Edith Wharton

10

“To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.” – Confucius

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

News Flash – the entire world is in the midst of a pandemic right now, civil unrest and an election filled joy and delight. Uncertainty continues. Work from home. School from home. Fear. Anxiety. Unknown.

I can hear the tone and angst in emails, in conversations, on zoom calls. I’ve done my share of contributing in a similar fashion at times. I try to stop myself in my tracks to not become what I attest. In the past three days, I’ve gotten sharp angry emails, assuming the worst intentions rather than simple human error.

So here’s your Mr. Rogers lesson for adults since many are acting like children who have skipped lunch and can’t play with your toys. Count to 10 before you send an email or assume you’re the only person going through a difficult time right now. Mr. Rogers would also advise children to look for the helpers. Why not try to be a helper?

Be kind. Be patient. Empathy works, try it. Learn to breath, assume the best and count to 10. Reflect and think before you speak or send an email.

Tip of the week: Download the Insight Timer meditation app. I’ve been listening in the morning and evening the past two weeks and am finding a deep peace with a few hiccups during 10 hours of daily work filled with delightful emails. Meditate in the morning and evening to reflect on you, not others. We all, all of us, can do and act better.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Breathe.

Cast some light. Please. Let’s help each other carry the load and find joy right now when we need it the most.

“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” – William Wordsworth

Light Burns Fog

“Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.” – Plutarch

“Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.” – Henri Matisse

On my run this morning, it was difficult to see too far ahead with the looming fog and damp cold. As I was finishing, the sun started to burn through the fog. Light always burns off the fog of uncertainty, negativity and judgment.

Cling to the light of hope, faith and resilience, especially now when the fog is thick with ongoing pandemic uncertainty, a mean season of dirty politics on both sides and hatred rooted in stereotypes rather than reality.

It was a beautiful end to the day with sun shining bright and brilliant. Choose light. Never take optimism for granted or underestimate her power to transform the world. Actively choose light over the fog.

On my way out for a walk tonight, my neighbor told me that she had the police over today because someone shredded her American flag and she was afraid. Stop the rhetoric and hatred! History lesson – the very first amendment is free speech. Speak yours and allow others to speak theirs without judgment, shaming or violence.

Go vote. Regardless of the results of the election in November, live a good life each day by contributing your best and offering kindness, understanding and empathy. Enough is enough. Build a life of your own that you will be proud of when you have to take account for it and stay in your own lane.

We have enough fog. Cast light.

“Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom – and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.”- Benjamin Franklin

Space and Grace

“Grow in the root of all grace, which is faith. Believe God’s promises more firmly than ever. Allow your faith to increase in its fullness, firmness, and simplicity.” – Charles Spurgeon

“Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.” – Martin Luther

Carve moments throughout the day to create space to listen, ponder and be at ease. Open up to the newness of the day, becoming aware of grace that is present, a free gift if we choose to open it. Go boldly with trust into the simplicity of living that we are called to enter.

Assumptions, old wounds and judgment cloud the path forward. The past, the way we choose to see it, need not define the future. We can write a new story. Empathy is kindness outward that comes back in as well. We realize that we are all on this journey together trying to find the right path forward.

By creating space, we create distance between stimulus and response, between the past and the future. We allow the clouds to part for the rainbow to weave through the cracks casting brilliant colorful light, reminding us of the possibility and abundance abound.

Create space so you can see grace, the rainbow that is behind the clouds.

“When you are spiritually connected, you are not looking for occasions to be offended, and you are not judging and labeling others. You are in a state of grace in which you know you are connected to God and thus free from the effects of anyone or anything external to yourself.” – Wayne Dyer

Peace Within

“I know, to banish anger altogether from one’s breast is a difficult task. It cannot be achieved through pure personal effort. It can be done only by God’s grace.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“The meaning of life. The wasted years of life. The poor choices of life. God answers the mess of life with one word: ‘grace.’” – Max Lucado

This morning’s walk along the river in St. Paul was noticeably quieter than last week amidst the mourning, anger and destruction of parts of the Twin Cities in response to George Floyd’s death.

There were two people sculling in narrow boats on the river with ease and grace. It was beautiful, quiet and peaceful to witness. As I watched the fluid movement, I thought if only each of one of us had that peace, grace and ease within, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.

We didn’t get to what happened to George Floyd overnight. It’s been ingrained in organizations, systems, in bias, hatred and misunderstanding on all sides. It was the tipping point that screamed – ENOUGH! Any human who watched that 8+ minute video was and is sickened and saddened. How do we get to this point in humanity to be so numb, so callous, so hollow?

Before we cast judgment and damnation on organizations, all police officers and others “different” from us, may we each look within ourselves first. To rend our hearts and souls, so we foster love and peace that demands permanent and lasting change that transforms the world beyond anger, hopelessness and hatred.

When we anchor our future on love, justice, courage, peace and empathy, never again will we witness the horror of the past few weeks and decades. May history stop repeating itself and may we create a present and future where we listen, lift each other up and rise above the noise, creating a beautiful world that we have the capacity to create right now. No excuses.

This is my prayer, my hope and my resolve. We must do this together. The journey starts within.

“When you are spiritually connected, you are not looking for occasions to be offended, and you are not judging and labeling others. You are in a state of grace in which you know you are connected to God and thus free from the effects of anyone or anything external to yourself.” – Wayne Dyer

Setting and Rising

“You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.” – Maya Angelou

“Love is like a virus. It can happen to anybody at any time.” – Maya Angelou

May we all be blessed enough to catch the virus of love. To never succumb to the darkness. To seize the light and ensure that we cast the light broad and deep to cultivate hope, joy and peace. That is the only worthy thing to cling to, to aspire to, to work for. Be kind. Change hearts, change the world.

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou

 

Write Your History

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” – Winston Churchill

We are in the middle of writing our history right in this very moment. What’s your story, the plot, your narrative, your third act? What will you be remembered for?

Joy
Optimism
Faith
Generosity
Creativity
Imperfection
Empathy
Curiosity
Gratitude
Resilience
Hope
Imagination
Laughter
Silly
Innovative
Purposeful
Fun
Playful
Kind

Seems like a good list to aspire to no matter the circumstances. If choosing only one, choose kindness. Be Kind. Cast Light!

“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

The Sun Within

“When you look at the sun during your walking meditation, the mindfulness of the body helps you to see that the sun is in you; without the sun there is no life at all and suddenly you get in touch with the sun in a different way.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa

Plenty of ink has been spilled on the paper of the internet filled with predictions, fear and consternation on COVID-19. It is serious. I will keep up with the news on a limited basis, social distance and wash my hands to a thousand “happy birthday” songs.

However, I am consciously and rigorously choosing to not succumb to hopelessness and doomsday predictions. Each day has become more urgent, vibrant and precious. I will cling to faith, joy and gratitude of all the blessings that remain.

After a week of diligent preparation, dozens of meetings and technology testing, a 15 minute ride around the lake at sunset brings it all into clear view. A vivid reminder that we are still here and the brilliant magical sun remains. We are strong, resilient and will overcome.

So if you are looking for “harsh reality” predictions, worst-case scenarios, blame games or complex theories of how this will all play out, this will not be the place to visit. This will be a garden of encouragement, frivolity, awe, positivity and deep confidence in our resolve and capacity to be bigger, stronger and kinder than our current circumstances. Light resides in each of us ready to be cast out.

In the silence of these days, let the sun within light the way through to the other side which always arrives. We are all in this together and are in the middle of a world-wide lesson in empathy. Be gentle, offer a genuine smile and feel the warmth of the sun within you. Look up, see the light and find the way.

YOU Matter

“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” – Ferdinand Foch

If you can be certain of one sure thing, let it be knowing that you matter. Despite what others say or do, you are here for a purpose and have your own special gifts to contribute.

In a world that has the attention span of a gnat, flittering from one empty promise to the next without regard, it is important for you to fully grasp that you matter.

Tune out the noise and enthusiastically dive into your life each day with abandon and joy. Do not be discarded. Be kind to yourself and others, with a side of gratitude. Get to work enjoying your life.

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