“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” -William Penn
Kindness is an ingredient in Henry Drummond’s Spectrum of Love in the 1880 classic, “The Greatest Thing in the World”. Showing kindness brings joy to the hearts of those we encounter. It is an act of unconditional love expressed by appreciation, respect, and care. It exudes warmth with a gentle acknowledgment of worthiness to be seen and heard. Simple acts of kindness uplift us and others and creates a ripple effect of transformation.
During my time spent in Malaysia, I witnessed acts of selfless service and loving-kindness through the spirit of volunteerism. When I was going through a hard time, I volunteered at the Children’s Hospital. With a smile, I greeted people, served coffee to parents and family members, and provided assistance to the Volunteer Administrative staff. This experience was a game-changer and shifted my perspective on what really matters which is loving-kindness. As quoted by Lao Tzu, “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
Stepping beyond our comfort zone
Fear stunts our spiritual growth and is a major impediment to living a meaningful and fulfilling life. Our conditioned beliefs and judgments, based upon labels and stereotypes, box us into a hypnotic regimented life. Perhaps we are comfortable, but our lives can become more enriched by making wholehearted connections with others. Life challenges are universal and an inevitable reality of the human condition. Every minute of the day someone experiences the death of a loved one, a geographic move to a new location, divorce, the empty nest syndrome from a child leaving home; and loss of job, health, or valuable material possession.
It is during these times that we need support from others. Whether living alone or with others, many people feel disconnected, vulnerable and suffer in quiet desperation. Loneliness magnifies fear. Leo Buscaglia stated in this book, LOVE, “The fear of aloneness and lack of love is so great in most of us that it’s possible we can become a slave of this fear.”
Loneliness and social isolation affect our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. A profound quote by Mother Teresa expressed the plight of the human condition, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty”. The universal challenge of loss and change connects us to our human family and warrants loving-kindness. Expressions of loving-kindness may be shown or revealed by quiet prayer, a gentle smile, heartfelt wish, and physical acts of extending a helping hand. We never know just how such simple acts change the lives of those whom we encounter. And we may not get a second chance to make a difference.
Reach out to those in need. Perhaps there is an elderly person in your community who lives alone or a neighbor who is going through a difficult time. Take the time to connect and offer support.
Wholehearted connections through worthiness
We are all connected and acts of loving-kindness are forever remembered. What happens to others influences us in many ways, and what happens in another part of the world has repercussions on us all. Our differences become insignificant during catastrophic events, and the lines become blurred in the midst of human suffering. Many rapidly come to the aid of others to alleviate or relieve suffering.
I will always remember a poignant remark by a journalist after the 911 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. As described, everything was gray from the debris of the explosion and people were wholeheartedly helping each other with no knowledge of who they were helping. There were no boundaries for those who fearlessly and courageously came to the aid of those in need. The thinking mind and ego were laid to rest, and the only concern was extending a helping hand to fellow brothers and sisters. This freedom to be who we truly are as divine beings releases fear and opens our heart. These daring acts of loving-kindness are witnessed daily around the world.
Creative expressions of kindness
The human bond of kindness is expressed through the arts and reinforces our human connection. Cultural arts awaken our senses and opens our hearts. An inspirational book, an alluring masterpiece, music that resonates with our soul, an astounding theatrical performance, and cuisines from different cultures leave lifelong impressions that cannot be shaken from our memory.
During the last days of my stay in Penang, an Indian family invited me to their home for a meal. Dressed in my Punjabi suit for this very special occasion, upon entering their home, the table was filled with exotic delicacies. Even though the family was fasting, this meal fit for a queen was prepared especially for me. The mother shared all the ingredients for each dish and the details of how each dish was prepared. I will never forget this genuine act of loving-kindness. True artists create from their heart with no boundaries. Their soulful creations can uplift, inspire and transform our lives. The arts connect us without regard to differences, and we bond to share our heartfelt appreciation for their gifts and talents.
Over the past two years, through a partially funded grant by the Mississippi Arts Commission, my non-profit organization, Life Care Wellness PEP For Angels, Inc. hosted the “PEP For Angels Storytelling Series and Cultural Arts Festival” with the theme, “Laughter is Healing”. The hospital setting was a most unusual and atypical place to host such activities, but I felt it could shift the atmosphere from pain and suffering to laughter and joy. These events were filled with creative expressions of loving-kindness from a variety of performing artists including storytellers, musicians, magicians, ballet dancers, and artists. The arts connected the community and uplifted the spirit of children, family, staff, and caregivers.
Loving-Kindness is our natural state
We are all worthy and deserving of loving-kindness. How we treat others is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. Showing loving-kindness to ourselves is paramount and only to the extent, we express this quality to ourselves, is the extent to which we can express it to others. Root out senseless fears that block kindness. Promote the “feel-good factor” that brings joy into our lives. Kindness can be cultivated through self-awareness and being mindful of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The present moment is filled with opportunities and choices to make a difference. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”