Practice Kindness

One of the many things that you can do for your happiness and the happiness of others is to practice kindness. Kindness has the capacity to spread like wildfire. If you are kind to the grocery clerk who checked you out, he or she will be kind to the rest of the people she serves each day. Her kindness will spread to all of her customers. A sweet smile and a few kind words are all you need.

Loving kindness is one of the Four Immeasurable Minds (Brahma Viharas or Divine Abodes) as taught by the Buddha. These are considered “immeasurable” because they are keys to a righteous and happy life. The others immeasurable minds are compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity or inclusiveness. I can testify to the effectiveness of these practices as they have uplifted my life beyond my expectations.

To the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
George Saunders

A couple of practices related to loving kindness are generosity, gratitude and forgiveness. When we are generous with our time, energy and material resources, we bring happiness to those we touch with generosity. When we appreciate what we have, we open the door to happiness and receiving and giving more. Remember what my wife taught my girls from the time they were toddlers: “To desire what you don’t have is to waste what you do have!” When we forgive ourselves by “giving up all hope of a better past” or forgive others for what they did to us, knowingly or unknowingly, we open our hearts and feel relief. This sets us up to be forgiven by others who we may have harmed in some way or other.

To practice kindness, I recommend that you recall three acts of kindness each day before you go to sleep. Once you make this a habit, you will start to look for opportunities to be kind and these acts will play forward to the people you touch. The more you practice in this way, the more you will realize that kindness and gratitude are partners in helping us lead better lives.

What acts of kindness did you do today?

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