Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Kindness as a path to Personal Transformation “If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.” Dalia Lama The ancient philosopher Philo of Alexandria (20AD – 50 AD) spoke similarly: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It is often difficult for us to recognize that each person has his/her own challenges. We can become so engulfed in our own issues we forget to acknowledge the people around us. When times seem tough, there is a tendency to pull back into one’s own world and as one does that, he becomes smaller, his energy field constricts. It is the same with victimhood. When we identify with what is not working and immerse ourselves in struggle, we can easily forget that others have pain as well. Soon our world is quite tiny. We must guard against isolation for it diminishes us. We are constructed to allow energy to flow through us and we cannot do that when isolated. We are healthier when we allow energy to flow and express – give it away. We have more love, when we give it away. The way to reverse the process of isolation and restriction is through kindness, gentleness, gratitude and love. Each of these expands energy. When you are feeling stuck, a simple act of kindness will move your attention from your small world to an expanded consciousness. A Hebrew holy book states that “The secret to happiness is giving.” Often people think they have not given unless the gift is substantial (a million dollars to develop a hospital wing). Yet, the truth is that every small gift matters and can change lives for each act has a ripple effect. If someone treats you with kindness and compassion, your tendency is to do the same to others. Kindness inspired kindness. Lena Horne said that she really didn’t become a successful human being until she took time to be kinder to everyone. In her words, “it was my responsibility to remove my own chip from my own shoulder. When I did, the world became a sweeter place and great success professional and personal, followed.” To seek personal expansion and transformation, we must also remove the chip from our own shoulder and release our obsession with personal struggles. As we extend ourselves, our world not only expands but brightens. We are now truly in the Light. Kindness can be skill we cultivate until it becomes natural. It can be as simple as waiting graciously while others are served, or smiling at strangers. Notice the opportunities that are presented to be kind. Can you hold open a door for someone struggling with packages? Say a kind word; express encouragement; do something above and beyond your duty? George H W Bush said, “American is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.” Kindness is the soul’s path out of loneliness to a destination of joy. Make a commitment to extend yourself in kindness to everyone you encounter today. ____________________________________________________________
Freedom to Choose When you blame others for your life, you give up the power to change, because you are making the other person the cause of your situation. Your self-definition is that of victim. Victims look outside themselves for their good and don’t take responsibility for causing their lives. “You make me mad”; “That drives me crazy”; “You upset me when you do that”. Each statement, depicts the speaker giving away his power. Each reflect the speaker’s inability or unwillingness to make choices to maintain his own emotional stability and peace. There is no event that can cause everyone to feel the same? The picture of an adorable baby draws oohs and ahhhs of admiration or illicit moans of too much work, mess, responsibility. A gory murder movie is reacted to with disgust or laughter depending on the observer’s point of view. The bottom line is no one can make you feel bad. You don’t have to get mad is someone addresses you in a derogatory fashion, anymore than you have to be happy if paid a compliment. Your reaction belongs to you. You can decide to be peaceful despite a chaotic environment. In Searching For Man’s Meaning, Victor Frankl said that no matter what his captors (in the concentration camp) did to him, they could not control his mind. In his mind, Frankl had visions of being back home. Instead of lavishing his captors with hate, he directed his imagination to sweet memories of home. As it turned out, Frankl, as one of the few camp survivors, returned home to his family. Captive of our unwillingness to set our own standards, our lives become individualized concentration camps when we turn over control to others. Next time you are faced with an opportunity to lose your cool, stop and reflect. You can remain unfettered in your own peacefulness. Detach from the learned inclination toward violence. Instead, decide how you would really like to feel. With practice, you will create unflinching peace that is impervious to the whims of others.