“What are you working with right now?” he asked me.
(This is something Buddhists sometimes ask each other.)
“Kindness,” I responded. “I find that I can always be a little kinder to myself.”
“Oh, that’s a great place to start.”
I smiled inwardly. I wasn’t surprised by his reaction. Kindness is one of those overused words like "love" or "mindfulness." Oh yes, kindness. How cute.
But I’d like to boldly proclaim, nay, shout from the rooftops (!!!), that our lives begin and end with kindness. It’s not just something you learn in kindergarten and give up to become an adult (although some people really believe this). It is the lifeblood of human connection and belonging.
The Dalai Lama once said, “Kindness is society.”
As I turn 38 today, kindness seems more important than ever. I’ve spent the majority of my life wrestling with an over-achieving inner critic (maybe you can relate?) who takes herself entirely too seriously. Kindness is not in her lexicon. Protecting “me” at all costs is. Any step outside the lines warrants an inner critical remark or put down. It’s in my best interest. For my safety. So I don't embarrass myself. So she thinks.
I’ve been tangled up in these lines for so long, it’s been an uphill battle just to find my way out of them and see them for what they really are. Lines created out of fear. And a young, unkind and immature way of relating to myself and the world.
The only way out is kindness. The only way in is kindness.
But don’t take my word for it. Investigate it for yourself. I've had to (a younger and more cynical me would have laughed at anyone who told me kindness was the key to opening my heart). What does kindness mean to you?
(What I'm listening to right now: Majid Jordan - Forever)