Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Kindness Experiment: Sometimes I Kind of Suck

I'm on a mission these days to have something worth writing and seeing published over at Elephantjournal.com. I've been mulling over an assignment for months and months, and while that might seem a tad crazy for a writer, when you're working with crew of seekers, yogis, and all-around enlightened cats, they tend to be a little more forgiving than most.

I've been trying to attack KINDNESS from all angles to get a handle on it.

It's one of the four divine abidings--attitudes the Buddha would see living in the hearts of all people. It's so important to Christianity that the apostle Paul called it one of the "fruits of the spirit." In Islam, it's said that kindness is a true mark of faith. Judiaism also calls kindness to other people a sublime showing of one's faith.

Kind of a big deal, right?

I googled kindness on a whim and thanks to the ever present Wikipedia, here's what it said:

"kindness: the act or state of being kind, being marked by good and charitable behavior, pleasant disposition, and concern for others."



I did a mental inventory of my last 48 hours searching for places where I was really and truly kind to my fellow man. At first pass, I thought I did pretty good. Here was my list:

1. Didn't swat my son's behind despite him stuffing dirty underwear into the hermit crab tank.
2. Held my tongue when the bank teller rolled her eyes at me this morning.
3. Returned my library books. On time, ya'll...

Pretty kind, right? Doubt it.

I also thought about Facebook, my nemesis. Not only does it eat up too much of my damn time, it creates a sort of hyper-competitive, uber-persnickity asshat out of me. I mock over-the-top EMOness and will snort out loud at one too many self portraits. I look at cute pictures of homeless puppies, and if my husband won't let me adopt one today I figure I'm not meant to do good deeds at the moment (to date, I've yet to get my dog, so I've yet to feel called to kindness actions. I blame P.)

The whole inventory I took of my state of mind and my actions in relation to kindness sort of led me to the conclusion that in a lot of ways, I suck as a human being. At least as a self-professed, church attending Christian. No fruits for this spirit this week, Paul, sorry...

Kindness is opening up to me as an ideal, but as a day-to-day state of being? Well, not yet. I've got no problem being compassionate when I see you step ankle-deep into that mud puddle.

"Poor thing," I'll say in my heart. "I hope her day gets better."

Buuuut, that's about where things end in my world. Lend you my socks? Not likely. Buy you a cuppa to warm  you up? Sorry. I'm on a diet and I gave up Starbucks this week. None for me? None for you!

It's a bit humbling as you learn the difference between decreasing your own negativity (I'm getting better at this) and increasing another's happiness. That's trickier and in today's age, people are often mistrustful of kind strangers. Who wants to be the weird lady handing out lollipops and clean socks?

Well, me...I guess.

I'll let you know how that elephantjournal.com thing works out. Hopefully I find a way to approach the kindness subject without alienating the "om"est of the "om" out there.

...be kind!...


  1. I totally get this.
    My 13 year old is so cynical and judgmental. a couple of weeks ago she was mouthing off in completely judgement and I looked at her and said "where in the world did you learn to be so hateful and mean?" and she scoffed and said "right, because you would NEVER judge anyone."
    Since then I have seen little things come out. Little attitudes. And while it was not as blatantly unkind or wicked as hers was (face to face), the over all attitude reeked.

    i am working on it too...

    1. Kindness is so much more work for me than compassion or even empathy. I can feel for ya as long as it doesn't put me out. What a long journey I have ahead of me!! Hang in there Misty...I have two girls who will be teenagers eventually...and I remember myself as a teenager...and OHMAIGOSH there will not be enough red wine on the planet to help me through... :)