Serving Up A Plate of Kindness This Thanksgiving

Kindness is needed for your own inner fulfillment and is one of the highest expressions of human development. The Roman philosopher, Seneca.

Can we ever be too nice for our own good? Some people think so. It seems there are perils to being kind, especially in the workplace. Nicer people make less money than their more aggressive coworkers, get rewarded less for their work efforts and tend to finish last (Too Nice for Your Own Good?”). Although these surveys suggest it doesn’t pay to be nice on the job, they say nothing about the value of kindness to our whole lives. Further, they tend to ingrain in us the prevailing idea that kindness is more a weakness of character than it is a strength.

Culturally, we have tended to see kindness as less important to our development. It’s a curious thing that we have culturally built up defenses against letting our kindheartedness show. Authors Phillips and Taylor’s book On Kindness contend that we are battling against our innate tendency to be caring, gentle, compassionate and generous. At every turn, they say, “Kindness wants to burst forth from us, but we may hesitate to let it come forward because it involves taking risks.”

What do we risk by letting kindness guide our thoughts, feelings, and actions? We let our desires and needs mingle with the desires and needs of other people. This may not only temporarily inconvenience us but may also open us to experiences for which we are unprepared. For example, just the other day, I took time out from my schedule to shop for a new pair of jeans. I stopped to pet a woman’s dog and that led her to share her problems with me. Although I was in a rush, I stayed and listened to her. She thanked me many times for listening and apologized for taking my time. This nice woman could not help herself; she was very stressed. Her suffering reminded me of just how much stress can overwhelm us and lead us to share our troubles, even to a stranger. Also, I was reminded of the deep need in all of us to feel the support, compassion, and understanding of other people.

I had lost nothing through this exchange, other than a delay in my schedule. This was a slightly uncomfortable consequence of mixing up my needs with her’s. But, I ended up gaining more from this interaction than I had lost. This is the remarkable result of kindness. I was reminded that there are chances to experience our humanity on the most normal of days and ordinary of settings. But, we have to take the time.

I hope that I helped to ease her pain a bit that day. I’m sure she didn’t know what she gave back to me. She opened me up to the rich and lively sensitivities and discernments of two people authentically engaging with each other. I shifted away from carrying out my day like a robot to being fully present to the moment. Rather than get a new pair of jeans that day, I got a What the Bleep Do We Know Moment at Fashion Island Shopping Center in Newport Beach, California. A kind act invited meaningful dialogue and interaction that opened me to a moment of awe.

There are many physical, emotional and spiritual rewards that come when we let our needs and desires mingle with the needs and desires of other people. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of North Carolina found that compassionate, helpful behavior seems to make our genes happy (What Our Genes Reveal About True Happiness). People whose happiness was based on doing things for others, rather than on merely accumulating things, had lower inflammatory markers and improved levels of antibodies, needed for fighting off disease. Also, when we give of ourselves, life satisfaction and self-realization significantly improve, especially if our altruism started young (Huffington Post, Random Acts of Kindness 2013).

But, we have to make an effort to give and get a daily dose of kindness to reap its rewards. Kindness takes strength. You have to give of yourself in ways that may stretch your understanding, compassion, and generosity and also involve some risk. You may have to put your biases aside and reach deep down inside for experiences that help you to relate to another person’s need and suffering. If you don’t take time in your life to connect to other people through their need, you limit opportunities for true living fulfillment. You may fool yourself as to the source of life enjoyment as being solely in material acquisition. But, this fulfillment is temporary; it comes and goes along with your material possessions.

So, make sure that this holiday season you are serving up a plate of kindness along with the other goodies you are serving. Let in experiences that nourish your and other people’s souls and opens you to the extraordinary in living. Don’t let inconvenience or fear stop you from letting your inner kindness burst forth. You deprive yourself of experiences that make you appreciate life, no matter what is happening for you.

I hope you liked my post today. Please let me know by selecting the Like icon that immediately follows. You can also Tweet or Google+1 today’s post to let your friends know about it. Happy Holidays. Warm regards Deborah.


2 Responses to “Serving Up A Plate of Kindness This Thanksgiving”

  1. avatar Deana says:

    Ahhh, “the remarkable result of kindness.” A saving grace. Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving!!!


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