- As for me, truthfully I struggle with it, but if one wishes to be an evolved transcendent being, one must develop a meta-awareness of self that is inherently more objective and far less subjective than the ego alone allows. And most people never really step beyond the ego which is why the world is the hostile place it currently is. But it doesn’t have to be. Asking that question and generally availing oneself to kindness as not only a distinct and available choice but also as an opportunity is DEFINITELY.
- Is when you are at one of those challenging but inevitable moments in life when you are passionately engaged in conversation with someone and the mood escalates a couple notches to heated debate on its way to all out confrontation. This is so hard especially when the center point is some bit of knowledge that, from your perspective, is so elementary it is self-evident (like 2+2=4) and yet your opponent just won’t wake up and get it through their thick heads. THOSE are the moments where our more primitive natures emerge and we’re reduced to our simple primate ancestry. It is in those corners that we say and do cruel and hurtful things to others… often those we love the most because it pisses us off that much more when the words we find so shockingly misinformed and repugnant are coming from someone we’d come to regard so highly. It is like, “You’re stupid + I Love You, THEREFORE if both are to remain true, I must also be stupid.” It can be quite a vicious cycle.
At those key junctures,
- Is to remind yourself that no matter what the circumstances of your dispute, you always have the choice between being RIGHT and being KIND. When faced with this decision, ALWAYS choose KIND.
Most all of human suffering and sorrow is caused by our primitive attachment to having other people tell us they were wrong and we were right.
- Candidly, as easily as I say it, I acknowledge that this is very hard to do in real life, especially when someone says something totally idiotic or politically inept or just infuriating on levels that you can’t put into words but they get your blood boiling. I am a person who is really opinionated plus passionate. And it is hard to master this skill if that’s how you’re built… but it CAN be done.
I can tell you from direct experience, I have many times regretted the toll taken for asserting I was right but I have never once regretted choosing to be kind instead. It offers a different kind of reward — one that ultimately feels much more life affirming and progressive. In my observation, it is the mark of an evolved and evolving person to have the aspiration to be kinder and your question here is the very doorway that will take you all the way there.
The ego has a selfish need to always be right and for everyone to know it. But it is possible over time through repeated practice to train your ego to regard being KIND as a form of being uber-right… and then it really starts to cooperate. And that reminds me of a funny bumper sticker I saw once and will never forget. It makes for a good closer. It said, “When I have learned to transcend my ego, I will have become truly cool.
In our daily lives when we interact with friends, we’re being judged. When we interact with bosses, we stand to lose by being irritated. We’ve incentives to speak softly, keep smiling and so on. But if you want to be really kind go to someone who’s much beneath you in socio-economic class and of no potential harm. That’s a real test of one’s character. You’d gain nothing here by being kind, here’s just a poor soul who has nothing to give. You know- I mean the waiter when you go to a restaurant, the sweeper when you’re in a park, even a dog when you’re on a deserted street. Ask the waiter/sweeper to sit with you, ask them how their day was; ask them about their life. Listen. It won’t make much of a difference- you don’t need to change their world, but you would instill a hope in their lives- they’d know there’s someone who cares for them. They’d know “all of them are not the same“.
Test yourself further? There are too many situations when we meet irritated people. When you encounter one, it’s too tempting to retort in the same manner. Unless the other carries arms/dagger don’t retort. Keep smiling. This may irritate them further. Let them come at you, abuse you, even push you once or twice. Don’t retaliate. At the end of the day you’d make some irritated soul kind enough or at the least save yourself the long lasting headaches of a heated argument.
If you’re looking for universal rules of kindness, I think there’s only one:
“Whatever pisses you off, don’t inflict the same on others”.
In clichéd words it’s said “Do unto others what you want them to do to you” but being overused it’s almost ignored. For instance I dislike loud music around myself which doesn’t resonate with my taste, dislike people talking/speaking aloud in phones when I’m sleeping nearby/ reading. So if I’ve to play music, I’d use headphones or resist. In no ways would I assume the other’s music tastes would resonate with mine. If I’ve to make/receive a phone call/talk while someone nearby me is reading/sleeping I’d move elsewhere. In no ways would I assume he may have no problems with it. Some places are regulated to ensure such regulations, but as I said if you want to test your character, do the same when there is none. You’ll be more kind, and people will adopt your kindness as well.
- Have empathy. To be empathetic is to imagine how the other person would feel in a given situation. For most people, empathy is instinctual. When you see someone else in pain, do you cringe on their behalf? When you watch a cute baby burst into a smile, do you smile too? When you have to watch someone struggle through an extremely awkward situation, do you feel embarrassed on their behalf? These are all signs of natural empathy–now just tap into that whenever you’re making a decision or interacting with others. As often as you remember, try to imagine how everybody else is currently feeling, and how they would feel depending on actions that you might take.
For example, suppose you’re hanging out with five friends, four of which already know each other, while the fifth is the “odd man out” in the situation. Even when you yourself are having a lots of fun, continuously ask yourself, “Is Odd Man Out having fun too? Are we including him in conversation? Would I feel awkward if I were in his shoes right now?” If you realize that he is being excluded, take action by changing the topic or by purposely bringing him into the conversation (“We’ve been talking about our classes a lot–what are classes like at your school?”).
- Practice. Like all things, being a kinder person takes practice. Even the kindest person makes the occasional faux pas–when you do so, you can handle it by apologizing, thinking about how you might be more considerate in the future, and observing what other kind people do in the same situation. My mom is one of the most thoughtful people I know. She often asks me questions like, “Are you going to bring a gift over when you visit?” or “How’s Mrs. Smith doing with her new baby?” Many times, the thought had never even crossed my mind, and I feel embarrassed for being neglectful. Over time, though, I start training myself to think that way. I remember to leave others a token of thanks when visiting, I remember to ask about Mrs. Smith’s latest life event. With practice, what seems like juggling a dozen “thou shaft’s and “thou shalt not’s will eventually come naturally as a way of thinking. I’m no grand master myself, but I hope to someday be as habitually kind-hearted as my mom!
- Be grateful of what others can teach you. When trying to be kind, people sometimes are condescending on accident. To avoid that, think of all other people as your equals–in fact, think of them as your teachers. No matter what, every other person can teach you something that you don’t know, whether it’s physics, a foreign language, knitting, singing, talking to animals, giving great presents, holding lively conversation, appreciating a fine wine, breakdancing, or storytelling. If you keep that in mind, you will be in the right mindset to show kindness rather than condescension.
- Pay attention to details. Being a kind person means that other people’s lives matter to you. Pay attention to and remember details about other’s lives. If your classmate mentions that she’s catching the flu, maybe you can bring her some medicine the next time you see her. Or maybe you can send her a cheerful “get well soon!” email/Facebook post. Or just remember to ask “Are you feeling better?” in class the following week.
- Ask what you can do to help. Don’t know how you can be helpful? There’s an easy solution to that–just ask. “Is there anything I can do to help?” is a great sentence to say and to hear.
- Manners. Say “please” and “thank you” and “sorry” and “excuse me.” Don’t worry about being too polite unless someone explicitly tells you to stop. In fact, say “thank you” even when the other person was only minimally helpful, and say “sorry” even when it was only minimally your fault. Personally, I try to include the phrase “Thank you for…” in almost every email I write.
- Exercise random acts of kindness. Surprise others (both friends and strangers) with unnecessarily nice actions. Offer to help carry heavy objects. Leave large tips for kind taxi drivers. Leave your friend an anonymous survival pack before her big exam. Bring a pie over to welcome your new neighbors. Pay the toll for the car behind you. Leave encouraging notes for specific people. Smile at people who look sad. Share leftover birthday cake with your officemates. Buy a pack of pens for the friend who always complains about losing his pens. Clean your parents’ house unexpectedly. Put some $10 bills in the street performer’s jar. And so on.
- Donate your time, resources, and/or money. If you wish your kindness to reach a larger scale, consider donating to a charity or two that you care about. If you feel you can’t afford it, your time volunteering can often be equally valuable. And don’t forget to donate the clothes you’re no longer wearing!
Being kind does have its advantages. Everyone talks to you. You get more favors. You have more friends.
And everyone loves you!
But learning to be nice and likeable is a trait that few people have mastered.
Have you ever met a warm person who made you feel comfortable and relaxed within a few minutes of meeting them?
You may have felt nervous or uncomfortable to start with, but all it took was a few lines to enjoy a great conversation with this nice person.
They’re charming and great to be friends with, aren’t they?
- Smile and be warm. This is a perfect start on your journey to becoming a nicer and more likeable person.
- Communicate well. Have interesting conversations with others without getting personal or intrusive
- Think from the other person’s point of view. Most of us are so full of ourselves that we forget to think from someone else’s perspective.
- Don’t be sharp. Avoid being rude or snappy in your retorts and responses. Don’t hurt people just because you can. Many people take pleasure in making someone else feel weak or humiliated. Don’t be that person.
- Be confident, but not egoistic. You may be confident and egoistic about yourself. You may take pride in your achievements or how much you make in a year. But when you’re interacting with others, don’t bring your ego out in the open for all to see.
- Have a positive outlook. Be happy. Don’t obsess about the bad things in life. Enjoy every moment of life and share your happiness with people around you. Positive people always have a sparkle in their eyes, and draw friends and admirers closer all the time.
- Respect everyone. As long as they respect you. If you want to know how to be nice and loved by all, you need to treat everyone around you with respect. You have to remember that there’s always someone watching you at all times.
- Be fair in your opinions and behavior. Don’t favor one person unnecessarily even when you know they’re wrong.
- Be accommodating and help others. If you have the opportunity to help someone, go ahead and do it.
- Pranks are funny only if everyone enjoys it. Don’t hurt someone to make a few others laugh.
- Laugh easily. Everyone likes a cheerful laugh. Enjoy life, spend time with others and widen that smile
- Good company. Be hygienic, smell good, look clean and be fun. Don’t be the person people squirm to sit next to.