Be Kinder Than Necessary

ccphoto by glamlife.studentportal A few months ago I came across a wooden plaque in an antique store that said, “Be kinder than necessary.” It came home with me and sits in a place of honor in my living room where I see it daily. I think that’s a good  precept to live by. I’ve been wanting to write about kindness for some time and today seems to be the right day. Kindness is a quality that I treasure and the lack of it (better known as unkindness) dismays me. The evening news—or any news– is a great place to be dismayed. When the debates about the health care plan were going on I was awed (and not in a good way) at the behaviors that were going on in the town meetings. I mean, it seems to me to be the height of unkindness to begrudge people of lesser fortunes the right to receive health care and then to bring a gun into a meeting to make your point. Yikes…

It’s not just in the news

Current events are not the only place I notice a lack of kindness. As an executive coach I get a chance to hear about it quite often. For some reason when people get together in companies the default position seems to be that of negativity rather than giving others a break.

What do you do if it doesn’t come naturally?

So what does it take to be a kind person? Well, I find that when I not meeting my own standards around kindness I am sitting in judgment of the other person. I have a declaration that I will always grant legitimacy, listen carefully to where the other person is coming from and try my hardest to see what might have his view point make sense in his world. And in spite of that, I sometimes find myself smack dab in the middle of negative assessments. So how to get out of that mindset is a constant source of thought and effort for me.

Marianne Williamson, a well-known teacher and lecturer of The Course in Miracles, once told a story that has stuck with me. Marianne’s web siteShe said that when we are in our judgments about another person, listing all of their faults and hating them for it, if we could check in with God on the subject Her (or His) response would be, “I like her.” So I guess if it’s good enough for God then it’s good enough for me. And if you don’t believe in God, you probably ought to read a different blogger because even though I have room for your belief system, I can’t get close to speaking to it.

Have a standard

I guess most of us can agree that if we were all a little kinder this world would be a better place to live. However, I can’t control what everyone else is doing. What I can do is offer appreciation to those who I see being kind to others in the hope that their example will inspire. And I can can hold myself to a standard about exhibiting kindness even in the face of resistance to it.

Be kinder than necessary… Those around you will love you for it.


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