See Your Kindness as Inoculation Against Continuing in Pain

When you feel affronted pause before responding and recall this French proverb: “Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble.”

Here’s one mighty helpful reason why.

Whatever we praise we encourage to flourish.  Unfortunately there’s a damaging flip side. Whatever we criticize or sometimes just frown at will cause a quicker, more intense and longer reaction in most people.

In any situation we can choose our emotional response. We can pick where to put our attention, feelings and intention. Emotions are energy. So, look to someone’s positive intent, especially when it appears she may have none.

“The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines,” wrote Charles Kuralt in On the Road.

“Keep what is worth keeping. And with the breath of kindness blow the rest away,” wrote English novelist, Dinah Mulock Craik. Here’s to making more opportunities to play, laugh, celebrate, and “say it better” in cultivating kindness as life’s genuine “keeper.”

Life contains few absolutes, and one of those few is that kindness usually cultivates connection, something we yearn for in a time-pressed, ear-to-the- cell-phone, relationship-diminished culture. After all, the heart can be our strongest muscle if we exercise it regularly. Yet being kind is not a guarantee of safety from hurt — nothing offers that failsafe comfort.

“Kindness and intelligence don’t always deliver us from the pitfalls and traps: there are always failures of love, of will, of imagination. There is no way to take the danger out of human relationships,” wrote Barbara Grizzuti Harrison in an article for McCall’s magazine way back in 1975.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand.

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares,” wrote Henri Nouwen in Out of Solitude.

Years ago from my college classmate, Alasi Perdanan, I heard a Persian proverb, “With a sweet tongue of kindness, you can drag an elephant by a hair.”

“Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate,” wrote Albert Schweitzer. “He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love,” wrote the Greek religious leader, Saint Basil.

Kindness is often unspoken. “An eye can threaten like a loaded and leveled gun, or it can insult like hissing or kicking; or, in its altered mood, by beams of kindness, it can make the heart dance for joy,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. At another time, Emerson wrote, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”

“You may be sorry that you spoke, sorry you stayed or went, sorry you won or lost, sorry so much was spent. But as you go through life, you’ll find — you’re never sorry you were kind,” said Herbert Prochnow.

“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom,” wrote Theodore Isaac Rubin in “One to One.”

“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness and small obligations win and preserve the heart” said English chemist Humphrey Davy.

“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop that makes it run over. So in a series of kindness there is, at last, one which makes the heart run over,” once wrote the Scottish lawyer and biographer, James Boswell.

“We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck . . . But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness,” wrote columnist Ellen Goodman.

From an artist’s perspective, ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov once said, “The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure.”

“When kindness has left people, even for a few moments, we become afraid of them, as if their reason has left them..” ~Willa Cather

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

“Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.” ~ Dr. Samuel Johnson

Get an eBook on how to turn the page to the next chapter of the adventure story you are meant to live, with over 300 tips + stories for becoming more likeable, respected, supported and well-known.

4 Responses to “See Your Kindness as Inoculation Against Continuing in Pain”

  1. Greg Marcus Says:

    Right On Kare! I find that stress is the enemy of kindness. It can be so hard to be kind some times, and while I hate to say it, especially with my kids. When I am stressed and writing, I feel bad when I give them an automatic “not now” when they come up to me with some enthusiastic factoid about the solo Monopoly game they are playing. The best part of life are those ordinary moments of kindness, and this post is a great reminder to slow it down and stay in the moment.

  2. Kare Anderson Says:

    I can completely identify with those feelings Greg… and agree that the seemingly mundane moments are too easily ignored for the opportunities they can hold for us…. especially if we see more moments as opportunities to bring out the better side in others… a sublime opportunity sometimes

  3. 7 tips for making today fantastic | Be Your Whole Self Says:

    […] anything else. The link between altruism and long-term health and wellbeing is well established. This great article by one of my favourite writers Kare Anderson sets out why. I subscribe to her blog for a regular dose of inspiration, you might […]

  4. Kare Anderson Says:

    I admire your candor Greg Marcus and bet most parents feel that way at times. My friend, Melinda Blau has written several helpful books about healthy families that address this common feeling. And Dionne, thank you, too, for enriching this online conversation with your 7 ways to feel better right away: http://beyourwholeself.com/7-tips-for-making-friday-fantastic/

Leave a Reply

with Kare Anderson

What can we do better together? For greater accomplishment, adventure and friendship let's harness the power of us. Share ways to thrive in this next chapter of your life with others. (more...)