Welcome to Monday’s Mindful Quote. This is a new tradition at the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog. Every Monday I’m going to cite a quote or a poem that is related to mindfulness and psychotherapy in some way and then explore it a bit and how it is relevant to our lives. For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater understanding.
Here is a great and potentially controversial quote to start the week out by the Dalai Lama:
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
Is it really always possible? When someone cuts you off on the highway or another person has 14 items in the 10 item or less express line, is kindness possible? Or how about when we’re feeling particularly stress, anxious or depressed, is kindness even possible then? Or when someone is abusive toward you?
Many would argue that the doorway to happiness is to a life geared toward kindness.
However, kindness does not mean that you have to agree with what someone is doing or even be tolerant of it.
To go even further, kindness is not about enabling or perpetuating a person’s harmful behavior. Offering a heroin to somebody who suffers with heroin addiction because you can’t stand to see him or her in pain, is not an act of kindness because it enables further suffering. Allowing someone to be verbally or physically abusive to you follows the same road as that is certainly not kind toward yourself or the other.
What about kindess toward ourselves? Fundamentally, we need to learn how to be kind to ourselves. Many of us find that the most difficult practice of all. That is why in the practice of cultivating kindness, we begin with ourselves.
More often than not when I ask people all the things they have to do that day, there is a long list. When I then ask, “And where are you on this list,” a quizzical facial expression forms as if I were speaking a tongue from another planet. Whatever the reason (that’s for another blog), we’re just not kind to ourselves and that makes it difficult to spread that out to others.
Kindness is often contagious and if a few more of us were infected by it, we may more nurturing environments to be in at home, work, and in public places.
The bottom line is that kindness is considered strength in many traditions, including the field of psychology. It can also be nurtured formally and through little acts during the day.
So is it always possible? Well, we can hold that as an aspiration or the light to guide our intention. However, if it is too difficult sometimes, don’t pressure yourself too much. Just come back to it when you can with intention and notice how you feel overall. Most of all, don’t just take the Dalai Lama’s word for it, try it out for yourself and see how it goes.
Experiment: Set an intention for today or the next hour to act with kindness.
Here’s some for you: May you be happy, May you be safe from inner and outer harm, May you be healthy, May you be free from fear.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.