Your mom was right. Be nice to people…

November 27, 2017

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog of today comes this quote – “Be nice to people…maybe it will be unappreciated, unreciprocated or ignored, but spread love anyway.  We rise by lifting others.”  (Germany Kent)

I’ve never quite understood those who see life as a zero-sum game in which they only win if others lose. They are people who are sometimes generously called “competitive” by others. They see no value in lifting up others, but would rather climb failureshigher by climbing over the backs of others. They see others as losers or obstacles to be overcome, defeated or discarded. Theirs is truly a sad existence.

Jack went on to comment that Google had done a study that showed that teams in business made up of people who liked and supported each other generally did better than teams made up of “competitive” people. I’ve gone through enough team building exercises in my business career to realize that finding a way to recognize and use the unique talents that each individual brings to the group makes for a stronger and more successful team.

Another saying from an earlier post to Jack’s blog also seems appropriate within the context of this discussion on being nice to others –

“The only moral lesson which is suited for a child—the most important lesson for every time of life—is this: Never hurt anybody.”  (Rousseau)

predjuicesThe inverse of being nice to others is most often causing them some hurt, whether it be just their feelings or otherwise. Dismissing the abilities and contributions of others is hurtful to them and, in the long run, to the efforts of the team. Ignoring others points of view or their questions about your point of view on things is missing valuable feedback. If nothing else, a questions that seems to be based upon not understanding what you have in mind clearly points out that you have not been able to articulate your point of view or plan. If the person questioning your plan has those doubts or misunderstandings, then others will too and you need to rethink either the plan itself or how you explain it to others. That is a valuable insight that you need to take into consideration.

Stepping out of the business world, it is important that we each do our part in making the world a better place. That starts by how you interact with those around you during the day. I thought of an analogy that is based on some video games that I’ve played in the past. Some of them had little “health meters” embedded in them that showed the relativemeter-healthy health of the participant. These were games in which you could find things that improved your health or things could happen to you which took away from your health. You could always tell whether something happening in the game was adding to or detracting from your health.

Life is a little like those games. As you meet people during the day, do those encounters add to or detract from your state of mind (your “health”)? What does someone encountering you get from it – an addition to their health or a downer that takes away from their mental health? That part is up to you and that is where being nice to others comes in. Being nice to others is not a passive thing; it requires work on your part. Showing them love means showing them the respect to listen to what they have to say, when you ask, “How are you?” Being nice means pausing from your busy schedule to take those moments to interact with them in a way that is more meaningful than a tossed off greeting as you pass on the street. Being nice means that you give them a lift on their “health meter” and hopefully you see a rise on your meter, too.

So, be aware of the potential impact that you could have on others this week, both positive and negative. Go out and be nice; spread the love and move their health meters up, always aware that your health meter will be rising, too.

Have a great and healthy week! Be nice to people.

 

Advertisements

Love thy neighbor, be kind today…

June 22, 2016

“Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.”  (Samuel Johnson); as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog today.

One could say that cordialness is in our power, even if friendship is not. The point is that we make the choice of how to react and interact with others, even those with whom we disagreement2disagree or who don’t make liking them easy. In this season of heightened political passions it is particularly hard sometimes to be kind or cordial with someone who may be proclaiming the political opposite of what you believe.

Unfortunately in life and is politics we have become a more polarized society, with little opportunity for intelligent conversation about the middle ground or compromise. Discussing topics like gun control, birth control and the GLBT lifestyle have devolved from conversations into rants and arguments. We are forced into taking side in discussions where the only alternatives are “you’re either with us or against us.” We are not allowed to have a middle-ground point of view or to espouse a solution that involves compromise by both sides. Even the word compromise is now used as a litmus test against others in some political circles and has become associated with weakness or betrayal of strongly held beliefs.

Jack went on to write – Some people are really hard to get along with.  To “love” does not necessarily mean to be “fond.”  Kindness is what Jesus had in mind when he talked about love…trying to see with a different set of eyes.  Are you able to do it?

Kindness is not pity. Kindness is not false. Kindness is the conscious attempt to understand the other person’s point of view without prejudging it. Much of what others
may proclaim with loud bluster is actually masking deep fears and insecurities. Many predjuicesprejudices are rooted in the same insecurities and fears. We tend to fear what we do not understand, rather than make the effort to see things from that different point of view.

We need not try to force ourselves to like the choices or lifestyles that people we meet may have embraced; but, we need not fear them either. We also don’t have to embrace their point of view; just be kind and accept them for who they are. Once you can do that, you may even find them to be someone who you could be fond of. At the least you will no longer have to be afraid of them or prejudiced against them.

I have found that refusing to rise to the bait of a pushy or bully type person or stopping myself from jumping immediately to a conclusion about a person, based solely upon the judge thingsinitial visual impression that they make, helps me. It is that initial pause from making some immediate judgement that allows that ability to be kind to kick in. It’s not always easy; because I carry around the weight of a lifetime of fears and prejudices, as we all do. It takes a conscience effort and I am not always successful; but I have found that the rewards from making that effort far outweigh the alternatives, which almost always lead to regrets later. Making a new friend is much better than adding a new fear or enemy in life.

Try to be kind today and see if it makes a difference in your life. Maybe you’ll end the day with a new friend, too.


Be kind, even if you have to bend the truth…

June 9, 2016

“Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.”  (Robert Brault) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

look in mirorSome people take great pride in always being “truthful”, even it it may be unkind, such as truthfully answering the question, “Do these pants make me look fat?” What value is there in your truthfulness in that situation, if it is unkind or causes pain.

From WikiPedia comes this definition of kindness – “Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.” There are no downsides in that definition of kindness as there might be in always being truthful with others. After all, as the opening quote points out, how sure are you that what you might be saying is the “truth?” In many cases, such as in the case of the question above, what you might say is the “truth” is really just your opinion. If that is true, why render an opinion that might hurt the feelings of someone else. What’s the upside in that?

Aesop, the well-known and respected Greek author, said “No act of kindness, no matter greek manhow small, is ever wasted.” The same cannot be said about the truth, which often falls upon deaf ears. So, perhaps today you will have one of those choices to make – to tell “the truth” to someone or to be kind. What will you do? Why did you make that choice? Do you think that telling the truth will somehow make the situation better, make the other person feel better or just make you feel better?

Perhaps we should all head the advice of Colossians 3:12 – Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. So, as you put on your clothes to start a new day, also kindness quotecloth yourself with those virtues before you begin encountering people and situations that will challenge you for a response. You’ll feel much better that the end of the day if you have responded with kindness, rather than smugly responding to all questions and situations with what you perceive to be “the truth.” So, the best answer to the question in paragraph 2 is that “those are really nice looking pants and they look great on you.”

Have a kinder, gentler day.


And, you never have to apologize…

January 26, 2016

“To err on the side of kindness is seldom an error.”  (Liz Armbruster), as seen some time ago on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

In place of “kindness”, one could also use the words “honesty” or “modesty” or “openness” or any number of words that all boil down to the same thing – doing what is right.

whining childHow many times after an event or encounter have you had to say to yourself, “Oh crap, I shouldn’t have said that or I shouldn’t have done that?” You erred on the other side of kindness and you know it. So, now you have to figure out a way to apologize and make it right.

Errors that lead to having to apologize are often committed in haste – a knee-jerk reaction, quick retort or quip – or without thinking – an off-hand remark or a casual and unintended snub. So, perhaps the first thing that you should resolve to do, in order to err on the side of kindness, is to stop before you act, react or reply. Just that momentary pause, before you respond to the situation at hand, may give you just enough time to catch yourself before you lash back in response to a treat or perceived hurt. You might be surprised how fast your restraint can kick in, if you give it a calm personchance. Perhaps that’s where some yoga training could come in handy.

Doing nothing in response to an event seldom causes the damage that responding inappropriately to something that was really nothing. Of course there are events that demand a response in order to save yourself or someone else from some harm and doing nothing in those instances could also be bad. It is just as bad to later be down on yourself because you didn’t step in and do something to stop or right a wrong.

kindness quoteSo, err on the side of kindness and take action in defense of what is right and you will seldom have to apologize later. You might also find later that you are quite proud of yourself; as well you should be, you did what was right and that is never an error.

Be kind out there today…


There’s no better time than now…

December 21, 2015

“You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”  (Emerson) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Now is the best time to take action on whatever act of kindness you may have in mind. That is especially true if that act involves an elderly person. Do it now; whether it is a visit with them in their home or retirement saying hellohome, or perhaps taking them some food, maybe some Christmas cookies, or maybe even seeing if you can take them somewhere to get some shopping done for other errands. Don’t spend time lamenting your coulda, woulda, shoulda’s later, when it is too late to help or to visit.

My mom’s favorite saying was, “The road to hell is paved with good hurry hurryintentions.” Of course you had every intention of visiting with them and helping were you could, but life got in the way. You became more than a distracted driver; you were living a distracted life. The distractions of work and family and everyday life pulled you so many directions that heading in the right direction and doing what was right became impossible. So, you put many of those things off until later. Until you realize that it is too late.  Later is when you lament – “I know I should have…”

The good news is that it isn’t too late. It is still right now and right now you can still make the right choice to do the right thing. But what about my life, you say? It’s funny how people who do the right thing find that life takes care of itself and for many even gets a whole lot better.

So, right now; while you are thinking about it; think of those things that Do you need a hugare acts of kindness and sharing and loving that you’ve been meaning to do, turn your thoughts into actions. Make that phone call or go make that visit. Give that special person in your life that hug that you’ve been meaning to give them and pause to tell them that you love them.

Maybe you thought about calling Meals on Wheels and see if you can deliver meals over the Holidays. Or many be you’ve been meaning to volunteer at the local Rescue Mission to serve meals to the homeless. Perhaps you can take some spare coats and blankets and clothing to the shelter for homeless veterans. Maybe you caregiverknow of someone who has lost a loved one and may need some special words of hope and encouragement this Holiday – call them or go visit with them. Maybe, if you call the local retirement homes in your area and ask you’ll find that there are residents there who have no one to visit with them over the Holidays, and that will provide you with your opportunity to show kindness and compassion.

It will feel so good lying in bed tonight and reflecting on the good that feel good mondayyou’ve accomplished; rather than lying there saying, “I know I should have…” Will your act of kindness change the world? No, but it will change the world for that one person towards which you showed the kindness; and it will likely change the world for you, too. It’s not too late to start today.

Have a great and sharing week ahead.

 


What you see isn’t all that is me…

April 20, 2015

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Be kind—always!”  (Sent by TK) – as seen on the blog Jack’s Winning Words.

There is a Teddy Pendergrass song that has the lyrics: “If you don’t know me by now, you will never, never, never know me.” That song was about trust and understanding of a soul mate in a relationship. It was not about the personal battles that go on inside everyone that TK was taking about in today’s quote, but perhaps it cold have been.

I’ve title today’s post “What you see isn’t all that is me…”, it could have also been “What you see is what I let you see.” girl cryingWhat we share with others about ourselves and our personal battles varies greatly depending upon the relationship that we have with each person. Some in Robin Williams’ family knew about and understood the personal battles that he had fought all his life with depression; while others just saw the face and character that he “put on” in public. Those who expressed shock at his suicide didn’t really know him and didn’t reach out to help him.

In the funny papers some of these battle are depicted as the fight between the little angel on one shoulder (good) and the little devil (evil) on the other. Imagine how noisy our world would be if all of those little internal battles played out in public where you could hear them. Many other descriptive devices have been invented to explain the pushes and pulls that go on in the battles that may be raging in our minds mind: Yin and Yang from Chinese folk lore; Sigmund Freud’s Id, Ego and Superego; perhaps impulsiveness vs. logic; the old standby of love and hate; trust and suspicion. Most of these forces that shape our reaction to the world go unseen by most, even to the closest of companions, until they get severely out of balance and we “lose it” in front of someone.

single momWe are taught from early childhood to suppress external displays of emotion, especially those that might upset others. We are told “big boys or girls don’t cry” or “shake it off” and get on with life. So the battles that rage inside are buried beneath layers of self-control and the public is not invited in to see our angst or pain or sorrow. We keep “a stiff upper lip.” A part of why we may turn away from someone begging on the street or avoid someone who is crying uncontrollably at a funeral is that we don’t want to let our guard down and admit that we have similar feelings of inadequacy or insecurity or loss. We are fighting those battles inside and, so far we are still in control.

Perhaps it is that temporary loss of control that we fear or that embarrasses us. Men usually hate to be seen crying at movies that depict things that one should cry about; but, there are war movies and sports movies that do not leave a dry eye in the room. That’s probably a good thing, because one can get exhausted by the struggle to stay in control and keep thatlady under cloud stiff upper lip. A bit of a quiver in that stiff upper lip every now and then, perhaps even accompanied by a moist eye, is a good release of the tension that can build up. Women have the advantage there because they seem to allow themselves and other women the release of a good cry every now and then.

Beyond this rather simplistic view of things, there rages in many the more serious battle against depression. At the core of many of those battles is a conflict over self-worth. Sometimes those doubts were planted in childhood by parents who called that worth into question at every opportunity. Most of the time when you read the life stories about very successful people you will find that they had good support systems growing up; but sometimes the there are stories about how an individual rose from a chaotic childhood and overcame very high odds to become successful. In those stories, there is a common theme that they never stopped believing in themselves. Along the way they may have encountered others – a teacher or a pastor, a relative or just a caringfriend – who also believed in them and gave them encouragement and support. Those were the people of whom TK spoke in today’s quote – they didn’t understand all of the battles that this person was going through, but they were kind and supportive and maybe loving.  Without knowing it, they may have provided that extra little push to get that child or young man back on track to his/her dream.

If you are the person in need of that kindness and support, don’t allow yourself to become isolated. People are more supportive than you might imagine, but you have painted into cornerto stop hiding from them. You can win the battles that are raging within “with a little help from your friends” to paraphrase the Beatles song from the Sgt. Pepper album. Seek out those with whom you might be able to share the things that are troubling you. Often “talking out” issues or problems with someone else provides you with answers that you just couldn’t see by yourself or it at least releases some of the tension that may have built up.

For the rest of us; we can help someone each day by just being kind, by expressing interest and support and maybe showing a little love. If that person was sliding into a funk, your kind words of encouragement may provide just the lifeline needed to rekindle hope and reinforce their perseverance. Just saying “I’m so proud of you for what you’re doing or what you’ve accomplished”, is just the motivation that some may need to keep going. Asking the question, “is there anything that you girls huggingwant to talk about?” and then listening may be all that was needed to help that person keep it together. Maybe they just need a shoulder to cry upon and that’s OK too; just being there for them and lending your shoulder is enough. If more help is needed than you can render, then help them find it. Don’t try to be an amateur psychologist, just be a friend; often that is enough.

Be kind out there today!