Wednesday, June 27, 2018

How to Be Kind in the World

In a wounded world the healing is in our hands. We can heal our world with one kindness at a time, according to David Friedman in We Can Be Kind, Healing Our World One Kindness at a Time.

And in order for us to be kind in the world we must be kind to ourselves. The last blog post gave nine ways to do that, although there are many more. But we begin with ourselves and move out into our world with kindness. Here are some ways to do that:

  1. If you see someone struggling with something, and if you have something that would help, give it to them. No strings attached, even anonymously if that is theonly way they will take it. That help can be anything from helping someone carry something to providing them with an opportunity that may change their life for the better.
  2. Take the time to listen non-judgementally, not trying to solve their problem unless asked.
  3. When someone asks for directions to someplace nearby, take them theire personally, even if it is out of yur way. If you see someone who looks lost or upset, go up to them and ask if they need help.
  4. When someone is in a situation where there is nothing you can do to change the situation, simply be there with them, not trying to fix it but being present with them.
  5. When someone asks you for help and you can't give it, simply tell them that you can't help. If there is something difficult you must say to someone, tell them honestly. Most people prefer that you speak honestly and from your heart. It is a kindness.
  6. The next time something aggrevates you, like someone cutting you off on the road or someone isn't doing something the way you prefer, notice what you are thinking and change that to kinder thoughts. Decide to be kind. Smile at the other person, tell them it is o.k., and notice your upset-ness de-escalating. Watch how your kindness adds love and joy and relief to the people involved. Be a peacemaker.
  7. And the next time you find yourself in a difficult negotiation, like dealing with a service person, airline clerk, frustrated neighbor that is rude or won't give you satisfaction, try being kind when you ask for what you want. You don't have to be mean, even if they act mean, to find a satisfactory result.
  8. Don't fight unkindness with unkindness or attack with attack. It only give more power to the unkindness and keeps it going, usually escalating the exchange. This can be difficult, but it is powerful. State what you are for and not what you are against. You may find that you both want the same thing in the end. This is being kind and can change many contentious situations.
  9. Sometimes kindness is being nice, polite. Sometimes nice is tough, not enabling unhealthy behaviors. Sometimes kindness is telling the truth when their hearing the truth can help them. Sometimes kindness is not telling the truth when the truth would only hurt them or someone else and would not help. In every circumstance think about what would be the kindest thing to do, and be kind.
  10. The next time you have a disagreement with someone, try to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective. Try to think what you would want if you were in their shoes. And endeavor to give that to them - respect, understanding, listening, etc. If there is something in the world that you feel you aren't getting, give it to others and it will come back to you.
  11. When caught up in an argument or disagreement, ask the other person what they want and why they want it. Instead of arguing see if you can simply listen, then do what you can to resolve the issue peacefully without fighting or arguing. Be kind. Kindness begets kindness.
  12. In dealing with people from different cultures, religions, sexual orientations, view them simply as human beings. Rather than look for their differences, look for what they want that is similar to what they want -peace, respect, safety, happiness. Offer them the kindness you would want, treating them as you would want. This creates a bond of cooperation rather than conflict. We have the compacity to know everyone's needs because we have the same needs ourselves.
This just a very short list of ways to be kind in the world. Next blog I will share the rest of the list that Friedman gives in his book. 

I recommend you read We Can Be Kind, Healing Our World One Kindness at a Time  for his explanations and examples. It is good reading a supports you as you develop the habit of kindness.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

9 WaysTo Be Kind & Heal the World

We can heal the world with one kindness at a time, so states David Friedman in his book We Can Be Kind, Healing Our World One Kindness at a Time.  Much of the content of this blog post is from his book. If you'd like more, get his book. I recommend it!

We already established in the last blog that in order to be kind to others we need to be kind to ourselves. That means you need to nurture yourself with positive thoughts, words, and deeds. We can't help someone else if we haven't taken care of ourselves. So be kind to you.

  1. Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at time? We can be kind to ourselves then by practicing being in this second, focusing on your own body, on what is around you, on who is with you, on what you are doing right now. Take everything one day/hour/minute/second at a time.
  2. When something happens you automatically think of as bad, stop and tell yourself that you don't know what this is for. Think about the fact that it is possible something good can come out of it eventually. Something good can come in ways you can't imagine. If you look for the good you are more likely to find the good. My grandmother always said there is good from everything if we look for it. And we know we are more likely to find what we are looking for
  3. Do you awfulize when something doesn't go right, you tell yourself/others that nothing will fix the situation. When something goes wrong we are uncomfortable with the feelings and rather than go inside the discomfort we imagine the worse possible outcomes that might result. When this happens you can go inside yourself, stay with the dicomfort and know that no incident is hopless, that positive possibilities exist, and you will be O.K. no matter what happens
  4. Feeling obligated, annoyed, or contentious in some circumstance? Consider those around you who may be feeling the same. Everyone in some way has the same struggles, you can feel kindly toward them. And when you can empathise with them you begain to feel less different and more a part of things.
  5. We all experience problems, challenges that sometimes seem impossible to overcome. These time give us opportunities to reach out to others, to get out of ourselves, and to realize that together with others we can find solutions. We are all in this together and when we find that we are there for each other, that we aren't alone, we will weather whatever the future brings. Helping others also helps us. Be kind.
  6. Do you sometimes run into people in your life who are supposed to be "the enemy" in your life or business? Try looking past what they are "supposed to be" and see that they are human just like you. Look deep into your heart and realize you don't really want to fight. And if they are like you, they probably don't want to fight either. Practice having thoughts of kindness toward them and strive to see what you both want instead. And work at making that happen.
  7. When you are in a conflict, try to assume that everyone is doing what they are doing to make things right somehow. No matter how they are behaving try to see them as trying to make things right and notice how the tone changes, how emotions get calmer, and outcomes become more good for everyone.
  8. Often we are in a situation where we have preconceived ideas about a person or group of persons. And sometimes the situations can be very problematic because we don't see the individual. We see our idea of what we think that person should be because of what we have seen, read, or experienced with another person like them. This is prejudice and leads to bigotry. Which creates conflicts inside us. We can be kind to ourselves in these situations by recognizing that each individual is different and stereotypes are based on surface observations. So if you have judgements about someone, look inside yourself for the same judgements about yourself. Often it is the parts of ourself that we don't like that create a negative opinion about others. Be kind to yourself about the things you don't like about yourself and practice kindness towards others. It will heal you both.
  9. When you are in a confrontation or a difficult situation where you feel someone else is doing something to you, you may think they should change their behavior. Stop and ask yourself how you could be different, what could you do to create peace and serenity for yourself, no matter how hopeless the situation seems. It will be difficult. Sometimes it means not responding in kind, or perhaps remaining silent when you want to attack. But try it. Try to see the other's point of view. Consider giving in on a point that you've not wanted to give. Ask yourself what is most important. Don't retaliate. Be the peace you want to see in the world. Be kind to yourself. 

In my next post we will look at ways to be kind in the world. Often just becoming kind to yourself creates kindness in the world. But we will look at other ways.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kindness Matters

Why be kind? Because kindness heals. It heals pain, your own and others. And there is so much pain in the world right now. We can make the world - and ourselves - better by being kind.

For me, the most meaningful statement in the book We Can Be Kind, by David Friedman, is the reminder that kindness is a choice. This gives us the personal power to change any situation by remembering to be kind, to ourselves and to others.

Even when I am in physical pain from my disability it is so easy to slip into unkind thoughts and behaviors. Doing this only makes my pain worse and can cause emotional pain in those to whom I am unkind. The best way to deal with my pain is to acknowlege it, experience it, and explore my feelings at the time. I can choose to calmly let go of the negative self-talk and the nastiness my words or behavior that surface.

You see, I blame myself for my pain. I'm fat. I've not taken good care of my body when I was younger. I push myself to do more than I should. Etc. None of that lessens the pain. And if I snap at someone else and spread pain to them, I feel bad about that too. So I'm learning to let go of the tension and let the pain move through and not pass it on to others.

The hard part for me is the challenge of seeing cruelty all around. And it is something I cannot control. When there is nothing I can do about a situation, what I can do is be kind. At first I thought that meant to be "nice" or "quiet" about someone's behavior. But another thing that is powerful about the power to chose is that you can choose HOW to be kind.
"Sometimes kindness is being nice: holding a door, telling someone theylook nice, giving a gift, being polite. Sometimes kindness is being tough: refusing to enable an addict, telling an overly dependent child they're on their own, not bailing someone out financially when they need to learn how to do it themselves. Sometimes kindness is telling the  thruth (when someone's hearing the truth would help them or the situation,) Sometimes kindness is not telling the truth (when the truth would only hurt someone and not do any good). In every circumstance, before you act, think to yourself,  "What would be the kindest thing I could do at this moment?" and do that." ... We Can Be Kind, by David Friedman
 Right now we need to be kind. And the great thing is that you and I CAN be kind.

Let's make the world a better place: Be Kind.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Are You Kind?

You watch the news on TV and the internet. You read the posts on FaceBook. Fear, anger, and meaness are servedup to us every day.

How do you keep all that from stressing you? How do you keep from getting caught up in the hate and cruelty? How do yu stay "nice" when all around yu is washed in such negatives?

I know I struggle with it. I want to be nice. I've always thought of myself as a nice person. But I'm reading this book (You Can Be Kind, by David Friedman) and am wondering just how kind I really am!

I'm learning that I'm not even kind to myself, which is a prerequisit to being kind to others. My negative self-talk is certainly not kind. I saw a picture taken of me sleeping with my great-granddaughter while babysitting. The picture taker that it was darling. My immediate response was, "I look like a hippopatamus!" Certainly not kind. If someone else had said that to me I'd think it was cruel. I need to be kinder to myself.

This past week I tried to be intentionally kind to others. I want it to become a way of life, so the more I practice intentional kindness the easier it will be. I let other cars go in front of me when driving, I let someone go before me in the check-out line, and I remained silent many times I might have reacted negatively to what someone was saying. One day I was able to join a demonstration to protect a Muslim Mosque from a large group of extremists who planned to harras the people going in to pray at the end of Ramadan. So, much of the time I was kind.

This proves to me that kindness is a choice! It isn't something you "become" but something you do.
So YOU can be kind too. I will work on being kinder to myself and continue with intentional kindness toward others. I hope you will join me.

There is a pay-off for being kind. You will feel better about yourself. You may find others will be kinder, too. And you won't have so many negatives to carry around and leave you worn out by the end of the week!

My next blog post will share some of the wisdom the the Friedman book. Check in Wednesday.

And, be kind.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

So, What Can We Do?

In the midst of hate, violence, chaos, what can we do?

I'm reading a book by David Friedman that may help us decide that, even when the world we see is wounded and out of our control, we can be kind.

"We Can Be Kind" is a song Fiedman wrote. He has based this book on that song. We Can Be Kind, Healing Our World One Kindness at a Time.  And he invites us to hear the song. So I found the video on YouTube. I hope you listen and can begin to heal.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

So, What Did You Do Last Week?

What did you do last week to make the world a better place? I have to confess that I didn't do much myself. I've been too caught up in my own home improvement project and haven't given a lot of thought to how to be more kind, to spread kindness in the world.

So I'm going to work harder at being kind by noticing things outside my own little bubble in the world. I do want to make the world a better place. And I know that kindness is contageous. So I want to do more acts of kindness.

There are so many ways, big and small, to be kind. Today I put my shopping cart back in the store rather than leave it in the parking area for someone else to return it. In the past I've noticed elderly shopper putting their shopping bags into their trunk and offer to help and then return their cart.

And inside the store I need to hurry less so I can notice if other shoppers need any help finding things or reaching the top shelf. Afterall, I value being kind over being quick.

So what are some other acts of kindness that we might perform?  Here are some possibilities that I listed a couple of years ago. I think I need a refresher:

  • Refrain from judging others or harassing them because they may be different or because of their actions. Search yourself for things you have in common rather than ways you are different.
  • Organize a flower-planting party in a nearby park, school, or faith organization. Consider the response others have to the beauty of nature and what a difference that can make for their day when they enjoy your handiwork.
  • Write a kind note to relatives and friends, letting them know why they are special.
  • Open the door for another person when out in public, no matter who that person is. Smile a greeting.
  • Consider needs others may have that you don't see being met and do something to change that. E.g. Approach bookstores owners and publishers about ordering and carrying more books in large print or on tape.
  • Talk to others about kindness, why it makes a difference and the fact that it really is easy to do.
  • Recycle all newspapers, plastics, aluminum, and paper, even if you have to go out of your way to do it. Be kind to the earth.
  • Create a "smile file" with cartoons and pictures that make othrs smile; pick out a cartoon to cheer up a friend in need.
  • Take a day and pay a compliment once every hour; practice telling people what you like about them.
  • Call an animal shelter and find out what donations they need. Collect treats, food, first aid supplies, toys, cat litter, towels, and soft blankets for the homeless animals. Most shelters will encourage you to come "visit" the animals to give them special individual attention. Go regularly and get your "animal love fix!"
  • Switch to pet-safe antifreeze. Antifreeze contains propylene glycol that carries a tempting but fatal taste to animals. Just one teaspoon can kill a cat and two ounces can kill a dog.
  • Reduce air pollution by planting trees and plants in your yard.
Remember, kindness is contageous. Let's create a tsunami of kindness in this often unkind world. And I'd love to have your ideas of how to be more kind,

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Hate, Anger, Violence

There seems to be a lot of hate, anger, and violence in our country right now.  I think it is rather staggering how much is evidenced. It isn't just in the media, even though that is where it is seen so often. It is also in the actions of what are otherwise average everyday people.

This week a friend has been treated with blatant bigotry by workers who have been contracted by her landlord to do work on her rental property. They have been not only rude but also verbally abusive. My friend is afraid that if she complains to the landlord, who is a friend of the workers, she will be asked to leave her home. They don't have a lease and she is disabled with little income.

The workers must be afraid of her different-ness. That is the usual base of bigotry. People too often fear what they don't understand.

Fear seems to rule much of the misbehavior around us. People who are afraid easily become angry, hateful, violent in word or deed. It is a vicious cycle. Too many of us now are caught up in a culture of fear.

We need to break that cycle. More than ever we need to practice kindness. Acts of kindness can mitagate the negative feelings and actions of others. Kindness can create a culture of caring. We need a tidal wave of Random Acts of Kindness.

I'm copying my March 7, 2018 post because it addresses this perfectly. Here it is again:

The Kindness Campaign encourages you to do acts of kindness every day. Some folks have trouble thinking of things to do, at least until they get into the habit of finding ways to be kind. So, if you need some ideas I'll try to list some for you.
Be aware of what others are doing. Who might you assist? Take your time at the grocery store so you can be aware of someone who might not be able to reach the top shelf, or someone who could use help putting their grocery bags into their car.
Is there an elderly person who needs help with something they are no longer able to do themselves? Do you know someone who dosn't have a car and could use a ride?
To whom might you verbalize your thanks for what they do? Be aware of all the things others do to maker life better or easier for someone and thank them for their behaviors. Have you told a wait-staff person thank you for their specific service? Or maybe you see someone in uniform [armed services, or emergency first-responders]. Tell them you are grateful for the work they do. There is a long list of service people that seldom get thanked, or even noticed. Thank your janitor at work and your spouse at home.
Look around wherever you are for little things you might do, like pick up litter, put shopping carts where they belong, re-shelve something that has been dropped on the floor at a store. Put away a family members scattered items when they are having a hard day. Take over a chore from someone who could just use a break.
Drop a card in the mail for someone you haven't seen in a while, or for someone who is ill or having a struggle with something tough. Write a letter to someone who seldom gets mail, maybe an elderly person confined to home or a facility.
Start visiting someone who is in a facility that has few visitors . Even if you have never met, you can make a new friend and make their day.
Invite a friend or two to come for a meal.
Maybe you can baby sit for a busy mom who could just use a couple of child-free hours.
Have you noticed that these acts of kindness are very inexpensive? You don't have to be wealthy to make a difference in someone's life.
Yes, they might take a little time. So slow down a little and make time for being kind.
And I know that you can think of things yourself when you make Kindness your intent. Kindness is contageous. Pass it on.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Blogger's Block

So, I don't know what I want to write about for today's blog. My mind is taken over by a home improvement project that keeps going off track. All I can think about is hinges.

You see, we have painted all of our kitchen cabinets. We took all the doors off, removed the hardware, treated them with deglosser, and painted them white. They were this gray-green color that was really dull. Last year we painted the kitchen walls yellow and the cabinets really looked drab.

Since I am somewhat physically limited I can only work for a few minutes at a time with rests in between. I call it "inch-worming" and do a lot of things that way. But since I have 23 cabinet doors, it has taken weeks to get them finished. 

Once painted white we went to buy new hinges and knobs, white ones. The knobs look great. The hinges didn't fit. So we returned them and got another kind of white hinges. They didn't work either.
So we decided we could live with silver-toned hinges. We bought another style of them and discovered they don't fit either. And because they aren't self closing we'd have to install magnets to keep them closed.

The only option left it seems is to paint the old hinges. And as we looked at them against the white paint to see how we would like them painted (white or silver-tone) we discovered they are not all the same size! We didn't realize that and don't know which size came from which doors. We will have to check each against where the screw holes are.

So tonight the hinges are soaking in vinegar water to remove the grease and grime from fifty-some years in a kitchen. And once we buy the spray paint for metals it will be back to painting, after I was so relieved I was done with that.

Now this project has been underway for a month. My kitchen has not been fully functional that whole time. I have to keep moving things from one place to another to do any cooking. And I have to watch where I step because of the paper and plastic littered floor.

Maybe when we get it all done I'll bake a cake or pie or something to celebrate.

So what did I learn from all this frustration? (Believe me, big time frustration) First, to do a large project you must be flexible. Second, you have to be a problem-solver because there are going to be problems. Third, when all seems to overwhelming you have to take a break and do something else. and Fourth, don't get too attached to the deadline you set for the project, cause it probably will take longer than you think. Fifth, be open to asking for help when you need it.

I imagine those points could fit most any kind of project, even big things like making the world a better place and working toward world peace.

So were you bored by my unlikely blog post?