So it is easier to be nice than to be kind. [Remember, you can be both at the same time but that isn't always the case. If you are nice just to be polite, you probably aren't being kind. Check last post to learn the difference] Being nice is easier because it takes less commitment or energy investment. I think most people are nice most of the time. That is how we get along.
So why aren't more of us kind more of the time? Fewer of us go out of our way, even a little, to be kind for a variety of reasons. We are in a hurry and choose not to take the the time. This may be the biggest reason we aren't kind.
Fear is another. Maybe we are afraid to go out of our comfort zone to speak to a stranger. Or we are afraid the "other" will expect too much from us. Or we are afraid we will be rebuffed, embarrassed by a refusal.Most of our fear is unfounded. And most of us are more than capable of dealing with any of those scenarios.
Other things that may keep us from being kind are anger, emotional or physical pain, hatred, selfishness, self-importance, cynicism, stress, exhaustion, apathy, distrust, denial, fear of taking the risk, pessimism, loss of faith, disdain, self-hatred, shame, and unconsciousness. When you notice yourself or someone else failing to be kind,you may be suffering from any or several of these.
Unconsciousness is the more pervasive, I think. People often are so self-absorbed that they don't even see when someone else needs some kindness. They live in their own little world, detached from others. And even when they notice others they may not have empathy for others, may be incapable of imagining what the other is feeling. Part of the problem with our society right now is that we have lost our connection to others, real human connection, in spite of the constant contact with technoloby.
But just as all the negativity that bombards us is contagious, kindness is also contagious. That is why it is important for you to share stories of kindness that you have seen. That is why it is important to share those stories on social media, radio and television. The more we see of it the more likely we and others will also be kind.
So how can we make this a kinder world? First we need to practice kindness ourselves and teach our children to be kind. Then we need to share that kindness with others, spread it around like sunshine. We need to develop the ability to have empathy for others. It all begins with empathy. "One of the fist signs of empathy is the emerging sense that you and I are we." (Robert A Furely in The Joy of Kindness.
In the forward to Love is Letting Go of Fear, Hugh Prather wrote "I can be of no real help to another unless I see that the two of us are in this together, that all of our differences are superficial and meaningless, and that only the countless ways we are alie have any importance at all." Interacting with people this way takes away most of the barriers to kindness. When we are able to see others as Us rather than Them, kindness is the obvious choice for us and the barriers begin to slip away.
But if we refuse to experience our own feelings we cannot connect with another's feelings.And this denial of our feelings is more common than we would like to acknowledge. Addictions block access to one's feelings. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse, compulsive gambling, shopping, hoarding, etc., add keep you from the painful feelings hidden beneath. The addiction culture seems to be spreading. Maybe we can made a difference in that by having empathy for those who are caught up in it rather than being angry or judgmental toward them. This would be kindness.
We can learn from small children. They are more often kind than those who are older. Little ones will run to help a little friend who has stumbled or skinned a knee or lost a toy. The offer comfort and they do something to help.
Let's be more like them. Let's make this world a kind place. How did you improve your empathy this week? Share in the comments something you did this week that was kind.
Oh, and you could be kind and share this post on FaceBook, Twitter, or email. Just click on the share button. Maybe we can start a kindness epidemic!