Fulfillment / Relationships

The Art of Kindness

Just a few days ago, I had a little chat with a good friend over merienda. We started talking about how people have a tendency to blurt out things, both unconsciously and consciously, without much editing. I’m  perplexed by this common habit of just saying things just for the sake of saying things. I’m sure you’ve encountered these types of people as well, the type of person who feels he has the right to comment on anything and everything, the person who says things without a purpose or reason in mind. I taught preschool for many years and although a lot of people say that kids say the darnest things, I can happily report that although kids are brutally honest.. they are definitely more sensitive and considerate of others than adults. Children say things because they want to get a message across, if they have feelings of hurt and anxiety towards others, they say it because they need to find a way to fix a sticky situation. Name-calling and verbal bullying develops when they’re older and these are things they actually pick up from the adults around them.

I remember attending a wedding years ago and being seated next to this middle aged man who kept  whining about every little detail of the wedding. Buong gabi nanlalait lang siya: “Ang panget naman ng suit niya, that’s an odd shade of gray” and “The ceremony was so long and boring!” and “Why would they serve this as an appetizer? It’s more like a dessert!”. To him, the wedding was a flop..yet to me, all I could see was love, love, and more love. As he nit-picked about every little detail, I saw the loving gazes of the groom to his bride, the teary eyed father giving a heartwarming speech, the adorable flower girls with cupcake icing all over their dresses. I made a conscious effort to drown out his voice with my happy thoughts. It’s possible for two people to experience the exact same event, at the exact same time, yet have two very opposing opinions about it. It’s a matter of developing an eye for positivity and making an effort to see the beauty in the little things.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a happiness freak. I’m not going to throw a party inside a burning building and say “Wow, I love how it’s so warm and toasty in here!”.  That would be stupid. You also have to deal with your demons and face them head on. But what I’m saying here is: you can’t please everyone, you can’t choose the people you encounter, you can’t edit the words that people choose to blurt out..but what you have control of is how to deal with negative people and situations.

People think I’m this happy go lucky girl, a little eng-eng of glee. And to some extent, I really am an eng-eng. (That’s our family term for egghead!) Mababaw ang kaligayahan ko: I get teary eyed when I see old people kiss and I laugh at “use-in-a sentence” jokes. But because of my many life experiences, I’ve also become one tough cookie. And not just any cookie, but a TOUGH peanut butter and jelly cookie! Boo-yeah! So I’ve learned how to deal with all sorts of people through the years.Just today, after reading so many heartwarming emails from readers..out of the blue, like a ninja in the bushes, out came this angry reader who blurted out so many harsh judgments about me. Then immediately after, she sent another comment to take back all her hurtful words and even had the audacity to put a “God bless” after! O diba, pagkatapos kang lait-laitin may “God bless” pa.I can almost imagine her thinking: “Naku po, ang sama ko pala..eto lalagyan ko ng “God bless” para makabawi”. But it doesn’t work that way, you can probably fool people but you can’t fool God. He sees each of our intentions and deals with each of us accordingly.

This is exactly what I am working on personally and how I would want to live my life each day, with a sense of accountability for your actions..you’re not only accountable to yourself, to society, at the end of the day..you are accountable to God. As you grow older (naks, Manang words of wisdom na naman ako dito), you slowly understand how important it is to be accountable for your actions and decisions. Words are no longer JUST words, words are said more cautiously and comments are expressed more purposefully. (Except jokes, walang katuturan ang mga jokes ko!) I’ve made so many mistakes in my past, too many to enumerate— think a whole yellow pad of sins and wrong-doings, that I wish I could take all back. But I can’t. I have no control over what I’ve done in the past, but I’m blessed to have the NOW and the FUTURE in my hands. So you hit the reset button and start over.

Conan O’Brien puts it so well when he said this: “‘If you work really, really hard, and you’re kind… Amazing things will happen to you.’ Kindness is an underrated trait nowadays. When you think kindness you think care bears, fuzzy baby seals and cute toddlers. In this competitive world, we celebrate CONFIDENCE, PRIDE, and SELF EXPRESSION more than we celebrate Kindness. Kindness is perceived as a trait of the weak, the sissies and the pansies. It seems so 1995 to be kind, so out of fashion. But when you stop to think about how hard it actually is to be KIND,you’ll see that KINDNESS is a true reflection of strength. It takes a strong and secure person to be kind to others, especially when others aren’t too kind to them. I once read that there is a big difference between being NICE and KIND. Nice is based on someone else’s perception, you are NICE to please that person or to put another person at ease. But if you are KIND, you do it because it’s the RIGHT thing to do and you do it because you know you have to regardless of the other person’s reaction to your deeds. You are kind to someone not necessarily because the person deserves it, but because it’s what God expects from you. Hayyyy, ang hirap talaga!!! It’s easy to be nice but it takes character to be KIND. When you breathe KINDNESS, and sincerely and genuninely practice it each day..with no expectations of recognition and/or merit, you will find that life becomes simpler and more meaningful. Kindness won’t make you rich, successful or famous..but it will make you content.

I know I gush about my husband all the time, but for me Patrick is really the best example of kindness. When I’m PMSing like a mad woman and become impossibly impossible with insane chocolate tantrums and a dysfunctional way of thinking, he always makes it an opportunity to show kindness to me. When I deal with difficult people, I always ask him for advice and he always seems to say the right things..even if I don’t ALWAYS follow his tips because I’m too stubborn, the path towards kindness always seems like the more challenging yet fulfilling way to do things. So folks, let’s kill everyone with our kindness! Every day is an opportunity to practice KINDNESS: to your family, to your boyfriends, to officemates, to household helpers, and most especially to strangers.

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