Kindness — a dying art

Everything counts. Even in small amounts.

Written by Heidi Cornelissen
Sitting in a coffee shop last week with a friend we watched as an elderly lady shuffled in. She looked disoriented and slowly glanced over the group of people sitting at the tables. We caught her eye and she unsteadily made her way towards us.”Are you OK?” we asked.”I’m looking for St John of God hospital,” she replied.Together we gave her directions and watched as she absorbed them and made her way back to her car. We continued to watch her unsure of what to do to help her further.But my friend, struggling to watch her any longer, jumped up and went to her aid. She leaned in the passenger window and engaged in a lengthy discussion with the lady. After what felt like an eternity, she returned to our table with the words, “She says she’ll be OK. She’s 90 years old and is on her way to visit her 92 year old friend in hospital.”Naturally our response was, “Should she still be driving? She looks so frail.”
“I offered to drive her,” my friend replied, “but she was adamant she’s okay,” and then came the clincher, which shocked me, “She even offered to pay me for my kindness.”

“What? You’re kidding me?! She offered you money for being kind to her? Isn’t kindness free? Or what have I missed?”‘Loving Kindness’ is a term that is often used in spiritual and religious circles. It refers to acts of kindness, motivated by love and is used primarily to describe God, rather than people. Perhaps this is how this frail lady experienced her 90 years, hence feeling the need to reimburse for a simple, yet kind act?

Is kindness really such a rarity? A dying art? My personal philosophy is that the big picture of life is all about love and compassion. In practical terms this translates into the behavior of kindness. Both to yourself and to others. But I don’t mean kindness to be just doing ‘good’ things and saying ‘nice’ things. I consider that mindset to be rule-based and obligatory which limits you instead of freeing your authentic self. Let your kindness come from a deep sense of your compassionate and accepting self.

Neale Donald Walsch provides some insights in his book, ‘Happier Than God’.

  • Stay in touch with who you are
  • See the perfection in everything and everyone
  • Bypass the drama
  • Understand sadness
  • Stop arguing with life
  • Drop all expectations
  • Have compassion for yourself
  • Speak your truth as soon as you know it
  • Smile

Where in your life are you currently experiencing any form of loving-kindness:

  • By giving it to others
  • By allowing others to give to you
  • By giving it to yourself

All three of these above mentioned ways are important. We sometimes only think of ways to give to others. The other two ways are equally significant. Think of real examples, both planned and spontaneous. If you can’t, what changes can you make?

Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.” Eric Hoffer