Without kindness we go sour. Kindness forces us out of our narrow concerns, usually about ourselves. Kindness reminds us that self is rather narrow and constricting. When we escape the confines of self into something bigger like family or community or a cause, we spring ourselves from self’s prison.
Kindness isn’t extravagant or showy so we often miss it blooming. It’s the invite from the neighbor for a cup of coffee, the timely message of care and concern from a friend, your spouse doing your “chore”, a nodded hello to a stranger.
A friendly, tender or well-disposed effort on behalf of others makes both giver and recipient happy. Kindness leaves a trail of goodwill in its wake.
I keep a daily gratitude journal as a way to practice noticing. I recommend the practice, if, like me, you tend toward nursing grudges rather than gratitude. Documenting gratitude lightens your psyche. This month, I kept a kindness journal. Kindness stuns in its regularity and diversity.
Kindness isn’t going to radically change the world, even if it makes everyone’s life a titch easier. Practicing kindness doesn’t deliver particular or extraordinary results. Some days kindness just lets us happily hang out.
Kindness isn’t magical, it’s magic.
November asks us to learn “to live peacefully in the cold and silence. It’s said that in such a place certain revelations may be discovered. That what the spirit reaches for may be eventually felt, if not exactly understood.” Mary Oliver
Sometimes I want to hold on to a moment, other times I hurry through the moments. It’s hard to welcome and release each moment; to be fully present. Recently I learned about the Welcoming Prayer by Father Thomas Keating and have been practicing it each morning.
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God’s action within. Amen.
A moment ago hill and vale were alive with crimson and gold. The next moment begins. Welcome prayer helps me ease into the harder beauty of November. A beautiful, simple and very, very hard prayer. Welcome Monday, welcome new week, welcome cold and snow, welcome dark days.
Woke to a winter wonder land today. After weeks of riotous color, the world shifted overnight to black and white. Picked up pencil to render this new black and white world.
Win or lose today thanks to all candidates who ran for election. You’ve sacrificed comfort, pleasures, dinner at home with your family to be out on the campaign trail, working to make our democracy a more perfect union. Thank you for your effort and sacrifice.
Trusting those who do get elected will work hard, even compromise to make our city, state and country better!
It’s easy to find contentment with life in October. This time of year is like a custom order for happiness.
I like the cooler, drier days of October. The sun gets up later each day. Every morning I rise before the sun,giving me a chance for a moral victory.
I wash my face, brush my teeth, make the bed, pour the first delicious cup of hot coffee. I appreciate my own industriousness and good cheer.
So far today, all goes according to plan. I’m spared, so far, dealing with my own or other’s limitations, quirks, shortcomings.
The hot cup of coffee warms my cool hands. The brown, pungent smell of coffee is especially inviting as I step onto the back screened porch to catch the crisp morning air. The sun’s rays light up the technicolor world around me. The orange, burnt umber, crimson, naples yellows of the trees and bushes slowly emerge from the dark grip of night. The slow, gray dawn eases into another brilliant blue day. I drink it in. All is well.
Here the trouble starts. I move from liking this moment, relishing this moment to wanting this moment to continue…forever.
Just now as I put the cup to my lips, enjoying the warm dampness of coffee steam and the earthy early morning smells I cherished this moment. In the next second I cling to this blissful mood.
I move from liking and savoring to attaching to these feelings. I crave more of these moments.
As soon as I start clinging to this moment, it disappears. The sun breaks the horizon, a cold breeze makes me shiver and cools the coffee.
When we slip from enjoying to grasping we’ve slipped from abundance to scarcity.What we focus on is where our head and heart stay.
That cool wind on the porch cooling my coffee, making me shiver presents me with a choice. Do I bang into the house irritated that my lovely moment passed. Or do I walk calmly into the kitchen, top off the cup with hot coffee, enjoy the warmth of the cozy kitchen, listening to the sound of my beloved coming downstairs for his coffee and a kiss?
Do I cling to the moment passed, or move into the next moment noticing the grace it holds?
Want to read more about the differences between liking and wanting? Check out the book Hardwiring Happiness, the New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm and Confidence by Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
What will you spend time enjoying today? Leave a note in the comments below.