In times of political uncertainty when votes are not counted yet and our hopes are not validated, there is not much we can do but wait. Although patience doesn’t tend to be our strong suit. We are perpetually conditioned to take control and call for action when events unfold without asking us for our opinion, permission, or input. In these cases, there is only one thing we can do: take care of ourselves and each other.
A gift we can offer to anyone regardless of their political standpoint, religious belief, racial or sexual identity is kindness. You don’t have to think big. You don’t have to spend money. You don’t even have to be creative or go out of your way. Contrary to popular belief, small, deceitfully insignificant things matter much. No judgment on quantity necessary. Start with a smile from underneath your mask, offer an amiable “Hello”, open the door for someone or let them into the elevator first. You never know what could make a person’s day, and more often than not, it is this trivial thing that helps one get through the day.
Changing your beliefs
You might say, how can I be kind to those who make my life miserable and cause all my problems? How can I smile at them, acknowledge them, or help them? I dare you to stop and think again. I am a strong believer in the notion of ‘nobody can make you do anything’. Nobody can make you feel one way or another. By holding the opposite belief, you are admitting that power over you is in the hands of another.
In fact, no one can cause your problems. If you really think about it, there are none to be caused. Things are not done to you but for you. And how you think about them is what gives you misery, not what is actually happening.
Give this a try next time you want to blame others and victimize yourself: stick to facts; use no adjectives; just report the beingness of things by just stating what is going on. Simple? Yes, but not easy.
To give an example: if it is raining and you had BBQ plans that day, simply state: “It is raining” without indulging in a habitual internal dialogue on how terrible it is that this is happening to you, that out of all days, of course, it had to be raining today when you already made plans, that you waited to get out of the house for days and now when you were so looking forward to this BBQ, it decided to rain.
It is raining. Simple as that. It is neither good nor bad. It’s just rain. Rain doesn’t cause any drama. You are creating one in your head and then spreading it by passing it forward. How? By calling your friends and complaining about it, telling them how terrible it is that this is happening to you, that out of all days of course it had to be raining today when you already made plans, that you waited to get out of the house for days and … blah blah blah.
And guess what? I guarantee you there is another person in your country, state, city, or even your building who looked out the window the same day and said: “Wow, it is raining today? I’m really glad. I didn’t want to go out today and now I have an excuse. I’d rather stay at home and watch Netflix. What a relief!”
Life… never good or bad. It just is. Doing its thing. What we think or say about it is what makes it such. So next time something happens that would otherwise throw you for a loop, just take a breath, relax, and repeat: “My plane is delayed” that’s it. No story behind it. I am fine; I will be fine. It is what it is.
With an attitude like this, it is so much easier to have an open heart, to welcome what is, and to accept the present moment and all it has to offer. If you see someone acting the way you don’t like/ approve/ appreciate, stay away from writing scenarios about them in your head, just see what unfolds in front of you and stick to the facts! If you see this person through the lens of understanding and non-judgment, you are already offering them the best gift you can give them: the underestimated yet overpublicized kindness.
Yes, we talk about it a lot. It is written on our Starbucks cups when we pick up our coffee, it appears on our T-shirts. It is posted in our windows or displayed on Hallmark cards. It shows up in commercials and there are so many books written about it. We heard it all before, the question is: are we influenced by these messages the same way we are by new fashion trends or electronic gadgets?
“Be kind” has become a cliche, a slogan we teach our children starting in their sandbox years. We use it a lot in schools, homes, and workplaces. Do we just say it out of habit without actually putting it into practice?
Here is a challenge and another hack: why don’t we all post it on our mirrors, in our lockers, in our cars and offices just for us, and not for others to see. Starting with “us” is where the secret lies. And only when we get the person looking back at us in the mirror can we walk the talk, and behave the way we want others to behave. Only then can we contribute to the well-being of all the people with just a few kind gestures and a new attitude, or by no gestures or talk at all. Oftentimes, non-action speaks louder than actions. The change manifests itself effortlessly and it is as contagious as the dreaded COVID-19. Only by substituting one infectious phenomenon with another, are we able to defeat it. So, let us get together in the effort of spreading things that are actually good for us: love, support, help, and kindness – one person at a time.