"What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?"
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Week 15 of our challenge has arrived, and in many regions of the country it failed to bring with it the Spring weather that we all long for. Extended winter temperatures and cloudy skies are often accompanied by a case of the grumpy-mumbles. You know, it well; the moment that frustration bubbles over the pot that was stirred perhaps a bit too much. Inside you're ready to erupt on the next person, or thing ("That is NOT what I said, Siri!" ) that pushes the boundary a bit too far.
We've all been there. We've said something we couldn't take back, rolled an eye or two so far up in our head that they almost got stuck, put a little too much umph on a statement that didn't need any to begin with, said something under our breath that was purposefully just audible enough so it could be heard but not deciphered. The grumpy-mumbles.
So what action is on the other end of the spectrum?
What would the wisest among us choose?
They would opt to be kind. Every single time.
Every single time? Yes. Every time. Before I tell you why, let's make sure we're all approaching this from the same definition of the word.
What does it mean to be kind? According to Dictionary.com, kind can be an adjective or a noun. For our purposes, we'll use the adjective definition(s):
of a good or benevolent nature or disposition
having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence
indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane
mild; gentle; clement
Let's focus on the most common usage, definitions 1 & 2, which both focus on goodwill (benevolence) as their anchor and focal point.
In times of strife or challenge, in moments where someone has vigorously stirred the pot to the point of agitation, there we stand at the fork in the road with two options to travel:
Fury Road: i.e. tell them where to go and what train to catch to get there
Kindness Avenue: proceeding from a place focused on goodwill
American society sees one of these as strength and the other as a weakness. I bet you've already concluded that fury is generally seen as the strength - a power move. But true power comes in the ability to exercise the wisdom necessary to proceed from a place of benevolence. Does this mean that you use a kinder tone or politely tell someone where to go and how to get there?
No. That's still traveling down fury road. A small amount of turbulence is still turbulence.
Even a cactus in bloom can still inflict harm.
What if, for the good of humankind, we paused just long enough to consider (or reconsider) kindness in our thoughts and actions? What if two questions could change the way we respond?
I am wise enough to know that our words leave an impact.
Am I wise enough to choose words that leave behind a trail of goodwill?
I am wise enough to know that what we throw into the world returns to us like a boomerang.
Am I wise enough to exercise the strength it takes to actively choose kindness?
So what is the fastest route to wisdom?
Acknowledging the strength it takes to remain positive in times of challenge and conflict
Understanding the benefits that await on Kindness Avenue
strengthened connections to community
celebrations of collaboration
Identifying your core values and purpose, & leaning on those to guide your interactions
What do I value most in life and human interactions?
How can I serve the world?
Why is there a conflict or challenge? What is the root? How can I help bring resolution?
The wisest among us know that kindness begins within ourselves.
I must speak well to myself in order to consider treating others with kindness. The wisest among us also understand that kindness breeds kindness, which makes the decision to choose it that much easier. Every single time.
I am a work in progress.
I choose kindness the majority of the time, but I (like you) am human. The good news is, those who are wise enough to choose kindness also understand that humans are inherently flawed. So instead of taking it personal and carrying around a grudge, they instead opt to see what else is going on in my life. Why? Because there is genuine care and concern for the progress of others. When that element is present, it makes it easier for me to choose kindness and apologize for my gumpy-mumbles reaction. Even if it's not present, if I carry goodwill in my heart, it is my duty to correct the wrongs I flung into the atmosphere. So that means, while I may slip and not choose kindness in this immediate moment, I can still reflect upon my actions and choose it for the same situation at a later date - all by switching roads.
In times of challenge the wisest among us choose kindness, not because it's good for them but rather because it's good for all of us. Every single time.
Let's chat about it! #Go52