My father, Max Bloom, recently turned 100 years old. When I asked him, “What’s the most important secret to your longevity?” he paused, smiled and said, “kindness.”
Kindness can be very simple. It’s in the little things of life: a smile, a helping hand, a thoughtful word or deed. And, what if, the next time you make a mistake, you dare to extend kindness instead of criticism towards yourself? Opening to what is possible through kindness is a simple and real way to impact the world that is right in front of you.
Kindness is an integral part of what we teach in SHINE. As we become more aware of our inner thoughts and feelings through mindfulness, we often find that self-criticism, stories and judgments are likely to arise. Only by meeting our inner turmoil with the warmth of kindness and compassion do we have any hope of finding the stress relief and peace we are seeking.
As we learn to be kinder and gentler with ourselves, perhaps we are also more inclined to be kind to others. And it also works in reverse — as we intentionally infuse our days with kindness toward others, we experience more joy and compassion toward ourselves.
I’ve been so inspired lately by a friend of mine who is challenging herself to do something kind for someone each day. Recently, she told me, on a very cold day as she was doing her shopping, she noticed a parking lot guard and observed that he was cold. Knowing he was working outside for hours, she thought he would likely appreciate a cup of hot chocolate. So she went out of her way to step into the Starbucks nearby before finishing her shopping.
My friend shared her idea with the Starbucks staff, hoping they might be willing to join in her act of kindness. Sure enough, the manager was happy to supply the hot chocolate. She walked across the parking lot and took it to the guard. She introduced herself, and asked his name, explaining what she had brought to him. At first he was surprised and a bit confused, and then graciously accepted the warm gift with a smile and many thanks.
What a simple, kind gesture that made a difference and brought warmth and brightness to a stranger! What if we all lived our days like that?
I am reminded of Walt Whitman’s statement:
“I am larger and better than I thought.
I did not know I held so much goodness.”
Stepping into the goodness that you are, in what ways can you bring kindness to yourself or to someone else each day?
To what one breath can do,