If you have been on the spiritual path a little while, you know what a blessing it is to do random acts of kindness, particularly during the holidays. I love that practice and find it makes a great difference in my life (and hopefully, that of others!). Right now, I feel it’s of utmost importance to not only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” but to bear witness to the kindness you see happening between others, and that you yourself are receiving.
While the holidays call for celebration, merriment, and goodwill towards all, we’ve been seeing a lot of suffering and conflict in our world. We might feel less than optimistic about the nation and our relations with others, whether other countries or those we pass on the street. But I have been seeing beautiful reflections of kindness and love all around me, and find that the willingness and ability to see human benevolence bolsters not only my world view, but my perception of myself.
It’s easy to become caught up in what everyone else is doing wrong, or how unpleasant or rude they are. We’ve all experienced that. It can get me into a grumpy mood when someone roughly bumps into me or snaps a retort. How do we shift out of that kind of frustration and annoyance?
By turning our attention to noticing when others are kind.
Recently, I was given a task that seemed daunting at first. Kinda silly to feel daunted by this, but I had to put up posters around the town I live near for a holiday dance production my daughter is in. Seems easy, but it involves going into stores and restaurants and asking permission to tape up the flyers in their windows, or leave postcards for their customers to take.
I felt invasive, going into an establishment I’ve never been in – maybe never would consider dining at – and asking for their generosity. I feared rejection – the NO, but not just a no; a rude or mean kind of no. Like, what are you asking me for? How dare you come in here and ask for that?
Pretty funny when I think about it. But going into these places and asking for kind permission made me feel vulnerable.
What’s been interesting about the process is that people, by and large, are really kind. Almost everyone says yes. Even warmly, with encouragement and a smile. The ones that say no are respectful and even a bit apologetic. Why was I afraid? Most people are kind-hearted.
Backstage during her dance performances, while my daughter was quickly changing from one costume to another, ready hands were available to help her. Girls from other dances handed her hats, zipped up her soldier outfit, helped her pin a crown into her hair. She did the same for them. Older girls fostered the younger ones, giving them encouragement before going on stage. Mothers jumped in when anyone needed another bobby pin or had lost part of a costume. Kindness was plentiful.
At the grocery store, I saw someone in line let someone with just a couple items slip in ahead of them. At a café, I saw someone bus their own table. And in our neighborhood, I saw people collecting clothing, tents, and blankets for the homeless victims of the recent fires.
I know the world isn’t perfect, and people aren’t, either. Including myself. But there is a lot of goodness out there.
Let your attention focus this month on the kindness, generosity, warmth, and compassion that you see out there in the world. In yogic philosophy, it is said that when we see someone doing acts of selflessness and benevolence, we are to respond with Mudita – Delight, Joyfulness. By attending to those benevolent acts, they will inspire us and fill us with that delight. Then, we also find ourselves expressing kindness and love more often. It awakens within us those same qualities that we perceive in others.
By looking for and seeing kindness, we are inclined to practice more kindness. What we see is a reflection of our own self. Allow this season to reflect to you all the goodness within, and share the spirit of this holiday in kindness towards yourself and others.
Have you seen some kindness lately? Share it and how it touched you here in the comments, and let’s inspire each other!
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