#17 in a series of wild and precious things that might help you find kindness
This week we learned about kindness. Our entire world turned upsidedown and we learned, quickly, to respond with kindness. The feeling I have is that many (most?) of us subconsciously knew that, if we could, we needed to show up strong and kind in an effort to set the tone for the duration. My feeling is that, unless we learn about kindness and pace ourselves, this is not sustainable. If we revert to “niceness”, the bottled-up stuff we “can’t say” because it isn’t “nice” is going to boil over into passive-aggressive pent up rage. And that ain’t pretty. Let’s commit to training for kindness this week. Our communities and families may thank us.
“I soon learned another thing about kindness though. Not only does kindness require greater effort, but it sometimes doesn’t look very “nice” at all.
Let’s take that “Don’t hurt her feelings.” advice, for example. At one point in my life, that was my golden rule: Never make anyone feel uncomfortable or regretful or awkward or sad… Until I found myself drowning in a swamp of codependency that ended up hurting others as much as myself.
When disagreeing with someone didn’t seem like the “nice” thing to do, I would bottle things up until, inevitably, I’d blow up—spewing hurtful words and unfair judgments. When it didn’t seem “nice” to interrupt a loved one’s busy day with my need for connection, I wouldn’t voice that need—until I’d become a needy, resentful, passive-aggressive bully.” Julie Rybarczyk, “Why I Choose Kindness Over Niceness”
While practicing radical self-acceptance and compassion, let’s try to venture past niceness into kindness. So. Write down the last 10 kind things you did.
Now go over your list and decide whether those things are actually nice, or truly kind.
Here’s the test: Kindness goes further than niceness and considers the other person. It’s messier, more complicated, honest and intentional. Kindness respects boundaries, isn’t easily offended, is gentle and full of empathy.
Niceness is agreeable, likable, and courteous. Full stop.
I had the pleasure of interviewing William Glennon, the person who started the Random Acts of Kindness foundation. He said something during that interview that has stuck with me: Striving for a kinder world is subversive (that’s a paraphrase). There’s a guerilla quality to doing RAKs. I say, do them. The best way to really train up from nice to kind acts is to take time to really suss out what another person wants and needs. Not what you think they need.
Try to do this once per day this week. One Random Act of Kindness — something unexpected that will make another person’s day uplifted.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
Include yourself. Being kind to yourself is essential. It’s also way more difficult than it seems. Literally, try a random act of kindness for yourself at least once per day.
That can look different depending on what you need. It’s either saying yes or no to another yoga class. It’s forcing yourself to look at the sunset and noticing its beauty. It’s taking five deep breaths outside to reset. It might include ice cream. It might include saying no to ice cream.
Once per day, a RAK for yourself. It’ll give you the reserves you need to be kinder to others.
7. Cards I found these cards while looking for a way to train for kindness. They look amazing. Anything from The School of Life is solid, IMHO.
8. Podcast. (Jeff Strong: Mere Disciple podcast episode “Nice vs Kind”)
9. Hero: Health Care Workers and First Responders
Why? We all have burdens to bear during this time but for those who are readying themselves for what might be a long period of challenge — working through fear and grief while they care for others.
Maybe I can add to that — all of us who are choosing to show up now and get stronger so we can emerge from this living in a world better than it was before. Kinder, more compassionate.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this.
Podcast available everywhere you download podcasts.