Is Being Kind to Others Foolish?
Is it Foolish to be Kind to Others?
In a world that seems to get angrier, more violent and more selfish every day, it is really hard to be kind. People question your motives. They look at you funny, as if you're the one with the attitude problem.
So, is kindness even worth it?
I say, maybe!
If your reason for being kind is to make up for some past error in judgement or to earn forgiveness, then I think you should stop putting all of your energy into being kind. You're doing it for the wrong reasons and you'll likely end up filled with anger and resentfulness once you learn the hard way they being kind doesn't give you emancipation.
It's just like the person who is kind because they want people to see them as saintly or wholesome. But how is seeking attention for your "good" deeds saintly?
Some of the publicly kindest people are actually in a constant battle with their inner demons. The kindness they display is a mask worn to hide the swirling clouds of jealousy, desires for revenge and regrets. Kindness becomes therapy, only it does nothing to restore your sense of self.
I was always taught to be kind to others because that was the right thing to do. The problem is I was never taught what to do when someone upset me. I'd smile. I'd bite my tongue and keep my thoughts to myself. This wasn't practicing kindness. It was practicing being a coward.
Don't fall into the same dilemma. It's okay to speak your mind and to defend yourself. if someone makes you angry, take a deep breath and take a few seconds to think about what you want to say. Then, speak up and speak slowly.
Begin by describing that you are angry or insulted or surprised or offended or disappointed by the actions of the person(s) who did you wrong.
Then explain, in short sentences, what they did.
Now, specify what you would like them to do (stop being jerks, be more considerate, give you space, not jump to conclusions, be more empathetic).
End the dialog by setting clear consequences -- both positive and negative -- about what they should expect if their behavior continue. You have a right to speak up. Use it!
If you are going to be kind (and I DO think we should all practice kindness to ourselves and to others) then do so without a spirit of expecting it back. Reciprocity doesn't always happen in the real world, so be willing to engage in lots of one-way kindness transactions.
- You can be kind to others without short fusing your integrity or self worth.
- A sincere thank you.
- A warm good morning.
- Pausing a few moments to listen to their response to your "how are you" question.
- Helping a person in need by placing a phone call (if you don't have the time or resources) to help them yourself.
- A firm hug, hand shake or head nod as you come and go.
Kindness is simple, beautiful and necessary when done for the right reasons!
Brian is the author of Escape Life Sucks Syndrome and The Creative Sales and Marketing Manual.