07 Jun Kindness – Is that so difficult?
The way I see it, we’re all muddling along doing the best we can, so it seems to me we could try to show a little more kindness to others – and ourselves.
An acid test of relationships is whether the positive interactions outweigh the negative – research says at least five positive to three negative interactions, but I think five to one is even better. This applies not only to close, personal relationships, but also friends, colleagues, and anyone we run into in the course of our days.
It can be a real eye-opener to start counting the positive and negative interactions we have with others. We can’t change other people, but we can change how we respond to them. We can choose to be kind and respond positively.
I like the idea of gently turning a blind eye to the faults and foibles of others. One of the things I appreciate most about getting older is that I don’t feel the need any more to adjust or change other people in order to be happy. I can focus more easily on appreciating the goodness in others, and that helps kindness to grow.
And when we ourselves mess up or behave in ways less than our best selves, I think we can talk more kindly to ourselves, to cut our own selves a little slack and try again tomorrow. It helps us see that other people are also muddling along doing the best they can, just like we are.
Letting go of perfection
Notice I referred to our best selves, not our perfect selves. Seeking perfection is an enemy of the good. We are in danger of not seeing the good in others and in ourselves if we are always seeking perfection.
If we start thinking of ourselves as kind, and put some effort every day into spreading kindness to others – to having more positive interactions than negative – then change will happen. I like how Carol Dweck frames change:
“…even when you think you’re not good at something, you can still plunge into it
wholeheartedly and stick to it.”