Years ago I saw that quote in a doctors office and I think about it often. It reminds me to be more generous in the way I perceive people. I have a long way to go, but the more I get to know people, the more I find that it's true; everyone IS fighting a hard battle...we need to be kind.
Sometimes we feel alone in our struggles. We can get irritable sometimes when we're tired. It's normal to get wrapped up in our own concerns and problems~big or small. The key to kindness is reminding ourselves that OTHER people get tired too. OTHER people have struggles, concerns and problems, even the ones who seem to "have it all together". Other peoples burdens could be lifted by a small act of kindness that WE show: a smile, a note, a phone call, opening the door for someone, visiting someone in the hospital.
If the little kid in you wants to pout, "But I don't want to be nice anymore", remember you can still tell the truth while being kind, without becoming mean. You just might
Mary Cook said, "We can follow the example of the good Samaritan and "change the world" of just one person by being benevolent". I love that. If you change the world of that person for just a moment or a day, they may remember it for a lifetime. However, it might be something so small you don't even remember doing it.
“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
~ John Bunyan
Why are we unkind, at times, to the people we love the most? Sometimes it feels easier to show kindness to acquaintances and strangers, but not toward our closest family members. Ouch. Shouldn't we be kind to everyone no matter what? Of course we have social customs of politeness since we live in a polite society, but kindness is more than being polite in public.
Kindness is something that flows from inside your heart and spirit towards other people. It's a way you view the world. Write down each of your family members names on a piece of paper. Look at each name and consider, how do I treat them? Am I kind to them?
Kindness is a Christlike quality:
acting the way Christ would act,
saying what Christ would say,
thinking what Christ would think about another person, or
seeing the qualities or intentions of a person that Christ would see.
In order for me to remember to act, say, think and see the way Christ does, in some small measure, I literally need to pray for it every morning. I am a much more benevolent and kind person when I do. I notice a big difference when I forget to pray for those qualities, and so does my husband! Reading stories about acts of kindness is helpful too.
Joseph B. Wirthlin said, "Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes." He continues, "Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes."
I want to mention one thing. If a family member, friend or co-worker is being extremely UN-kind and abusive to you, repeatedly, and your kindness toward them hasn't helped them change their behavior, pay attention to your behavior. If you are a people pleaser, being a 'doormat' is not the same thing as being kind. A kind person is a confident person who has learned how to 'play ball nicely', and who doesn't tolerate injustice, abuse (verbal, emotional or physical) or being wronged. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness. If you need extra help developing the confidence you deserve, seek for emotional support through counseling, or support groups.
If you want to become a more benevolent person, kindness is something you can learn in spite of raging hormones, sleep deprivation, unemployment, or unhealthy relationships. You know when you have it because your heart feels softer and more forgiving towards other people. During your difficult times it might simply mean saying a kinder word, if that's all you can muster. President Thomas S. Monson said, "I plead with you to have the courage to refrain from judging and criticizing those around you, as well as the courage to make certain everyone is included and feels loved and valued." Those are some great steps to take toward becoming a kinder person.
I looked up the dictinary definition of kindness. I offer a few simple suggestions following each definition. It says that a kind person is:
- friendly (smile at everyone, not just those in "your circle of friends"!/ invite people to do things ~ include people/ be a good listener/ start conversations with new people/ improve your eye contact with others)
- generous (spend time with people in need/ identify a person (or cause) you believe in and support them with encouragement, time or financial help/ interview a generous person you know to learn more about their views on life)
- considerate (hold the door for someone/ use your turn signal in the car/ don't judge others based on appearance, financial status, education, smell/ give people the benefit of the doubt/ put your cart in the cart return)
- empathetic (be curious about others/ focus on how similar your feelings are with other peoples feelings/ make a point to see other people’s perspective: read about other people’s lives, watch movies, documentaries or life stories/ spend time with someone less fortunate to understand what it means to be blind, paralyzed etc/ Imagine yourself in your child’s shoes for a day to see life from your child’s point of view, no matter how old they are.)
- helpful (act on your impluses to help people/ give things away you don't need/ "Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." ~William James/ do a simple chore your loved one usually performs)
*[this quote is often attributed to Plato but quote investigators traced it back to the likely person, Scottish Rev. John Watson, whose pseudonym is Ian MacLaren]
*1st image: Artist unknown.
2nd image: "Christ and the Young Child", by Carl Bloch.