I have a mantra that I use when I get around to meditating, or when I’m lying in bed, focusing on my breath, trying to go to sleep:
Love, serve, and be kind.
I repeat this phrase over and over, because this is how I want to live. I want to do what I do out of love—for myself, for others, for the planet, for God. I wish to serve my family, my friends, and my colleagues. And I really, really want to be kind.
Being kind doesn’t always come naturally to me. Sometimes I make mean jokes (but not as often as I used to). Sometimes I am condescending (even though I don’t mean to be). And sometimes I am too inward-focused to be able to be kind to people around me (I’m working on it…).
Throughout my life, I’ve been the lucky recipient of piles of kindness from others. I’ve also been the recipient of the opposite: back-stabbing, condescension, and full out yelling.
It’s easier to be kind when you’re around kind people. Which I am now. At work. At church. At home. But it still takes practice. And trust. Because when you are kind to someone, you open yourself up for disappointment. It’s possible that the other person won’t be kind back.
But it’s so worth it. Think about it! What if everybody was kind to everybody else? There really would be no problems in this world. With kindness comes generosity. With generosity comes giving. With giving comes plenty and joy.
Our Children and Kindness
We especially must be kind to our children. As I noted in a previous post, children are like seeds waiting to become a beautiful flower. But they require lots of kindness to grow—into kind adults. And that is our best hope for creating a better world.
There is a book on my wish list with the same title as this post: “Above All, Be Kind.” If you have children or care for others’ children, consider checking it out. (And if you get to it before I do, let me know how it is!)
I want to appreciate all of those who have taught me what kindness looks like throughout the years and still today: offering your jacket when it’s cold, doing the laundry, helping with a move, offering a smile and a hug, sending meaningful notes, sharing your favorite music, buying me a scientific calculator (when I couldn’t afford one), providing health care services free of charge, telling me I look good (which means a lot coming from a teenager), whispering just what I needed to hear after a dear friend’s death, welcoming me into your home, sharing meals & wine, and allowing me to be who I am.
Thinking of all this kindness makes me tear up. And when you practice loving kindness, you are giving this to someone else. It’s such a beautiful thing. You have the power to be a positive force in your own life and others’.
So remember: above all, be kind.