Faculties for Kindness: Know the Value

Faculties for Kindness

Faculties for Kindness: Know the Value

This is a reflection on being kind in an unkind world.

When everything around us seems to be full of meanness, we’re never excused not to be kind. But just how can we practice a little more goodness when everyone is being unkind? We just do.

I used to think that I couldn’t be generous. I thought among the few things I could excel at is being selfish and cruel. But I realized later in life that I was being mean, only because I let myself think that I couldn’t do anything well. I was so affected by what people say about me, especially those who were putting me down.

I think it was the bits of kind words and acts of others towards me that turned my world around. They made me realize that I could be better. It was my choice whether to be good or bad – and not only when it’s Christmas.

For those who need some help in how to give more kind words and acts these days, here are my thoughts on how I try to use whatever I’m given to contribute a little more love every day.

A heart for giving

If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.” – Bob Hope

There was a time that my husband and I gave a not-so-cheap gift to someone dear to us. We thought that they were really going to like it. I was shocked that that person returned the gift to us without any regret, saying that they didn’t need it so they were just giving it back. It was the first time it happened to me, and I do hope it’s the last. It felt awkward that I didn’t know what to say. It hurt me.

How do you go back to being generous after you’ve experienced such a strange and uncomfortable situation? I don’t know any scientific answer to this. But I realized you’ll really encounter a bad egg now and then. You’ll get hurt by one, two, or maybe more. But that’s life. Just think about what you’ve gained and move on with the good things you’re planning. Don’t let them derail you.

And what did I gain in that instance, aside from having an unexpected gift for myself? I think it’s a strange way for me to learn more about that person so I’d know how to relate to him in the future. It also made me aware of how others would feel if I do something unkind to them.

Eyes and ears that understand

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus

Human beings are complicated creatures. Sometimes they say one thing when they mean something else. In other instances, they’d appear as if they’re fine, but they actually are not.

Sometimes my daughter tells me that she’s hungry and would ask for milk. And then she’ll say that she wants a biscuit, she wants to play, and that she also wants to watch TV. The first time this happened I got so irritated. Then I noticed her eyelids were so heavy. She wasn’t hungry, but very sleepy.

I think dealing with people of any age is something like this. There are unspoken or hidden signs that we should watch out for in others if we want to know more about them and to keep a good relationship with them.

A guarded tongue

By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.” – Winston Churchill

My mom has always told me if I wasn’t going to say anything good about others, better shut up. I’ve been quite bad at following instructions, especially with this one. And have I regretted a lot of words I’ve uttered in the past years.

I realized that the best thing to do is apply what I’ve learned in writing to my everyday speech – Edit! And never let out of my mouth what I don’t want people to read when they open a book about my life.

Hands and feet that act on compassion

There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” – John Holmes

Without action, you’ll just have all your emotions stocked inside you doing good to no one, not even to yourself. Walking a few paces to reach that person needing your help and stretching out those arms as far as you can reach are simple workout steps for kindness.

If you’ve been rusty at exercising some compassion, it will be quite an effort at first. But if you just keep at it a few times more, you’ll find it in your system almost naturally. You’d even find ways to make it more challenging even just a notch.

Your whole being

Don’t be yourself – be someone a little nicer.” – Mignon McLaughlin

It doesn’t take bits and pieces for you to be kind. It has to be your whole being. And if you want to really practice kindness in your life, it does take constant effort. It doesn’t end after you’ve participated in a successful medical mission. It continues every day.

It’s that extra thread of patience you use not to scream your head off at your kid when he’s just spilled soup on your new suit. It’s that added energy that helps you stand up in the crowded train at the end of a tiring work day to give your seat to an old lady.

Being kind doesn’t mean being weak. It’s the other way around. We can only be kind if we stand our ground that we will do the good thing even if other people are being selfish and cruel – and even if people around you are telling you that you can’t do it. It’s a tough task that involves every part of ourselves, but definitely rewarding.

Have you done any act of kindness lately? Or have you received any kind word or deed from someone? Please share them in the comments section. I’m sure it will inspire anyone who reads it.

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