Conscious kindness

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This the lovely sage tea that the local residents used to bring for us when we worked on an community garden in Palestine.  It was hard work and it used to get cold in the winter evenings so this was very welcome.  This photo reminds me why we must remember to be kind to all- loved ones or strangers and of Goethe’s words, ‘Kindness is the chain by which society is held together.’

My aunt died recently.  With her passing, I remembered the many times I had been unkind not only to her but also to many others.  As a child, I made fun of my grandmother who could not hear or see.  Now many years later, as I struggle with my own eyesight and as a mother, I wonder how my grandmother coped with 11 children in spite of her disabilities.  I did not pay much attention to my aunt and now I know nothing about her life, her thoughts, her wishes and what she even liked.  Influenced by adults around me who should have known better, I made fun of her too.  She is gone but these awful memories live inside me.  Kindness is essential to our spirit and creativity.  I stilled my own life with my lack of kindness.  I am the one who has lost.  So in remembrance of my past unkindness, for the last month or so, I have been trying to be consciously kind.  This video also jogged me-

I know that in this world where there are people trying to kill each other at the slightest provocation, it is not easy to be kind or to have good thoughts.  So kindness has to be an active, conscious effort in our everyday living.  How can one be kind?  There are three steps, I have decided-

1. Empathy- try to find something common with the person or try to see their point of view.  This is a good ice-breaker too.

2. Politeness- Alain de Botton said that kindness is politeness (or perhaps the other way around, it doesn’t matter).  The kindest people are also the politest.

3. Time- one can’t be polite if one is in a hurry- slow down!  Acknowledge the other person and empathise with them and then say something polite.  All this takes time.

I have been trying these three steps for about a month- it is not easy but it has definitely made my life easier and sweeter.  Thanks to my aunt and my grandmother for making me a little bit kinder!

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