When we are young, we are given instructions without explanations. We are told to be quiet. We are told not to make such a big deal out of it. We are told not to rock the boat. We are told to be nice.
Even Santa Clause wants us to be nice or he will stiff us come Christmas morning.
And there is purpose in these directives. As children we don’t understand how to fit into a system of humans greater than those who are immediately serving our needs in terms of shelter, safety, food and love. But to survive and thrive, we need to understand this system so that we can manipulate it so it continues to serve us. Being nice pays off by allowing us to get along with others so that we can continue to have our needs met. And this is okay. Really.
But to be kind is a whole other journey. To be kind is to tap into that root of shared love that connects us to every other creature. Being kind is to see suffering that does not directly threaten our own welfare and still feel pulled to help in whatever way we can. There is no direct payoff to being kind.
We can choose genuine kindness. This might mean sticking up for someone. This could mean picking up the phone and calling a friend you know needs to talk. This could mean choosing the more expensive fair trade item when you are in a position to do so. This could mean opening up your heart enough to try to see things from a different point of view.
Kindness is the perfect gift to give and receive because it comes in all shapes and sizes, no wrapping paper is needed, and it has a longer shelf-life than nice.
Much love and happy holidays.