Choosing Kindness

In that moment, I made the split decision to not be kind. I wasn’t unkind but I wasn’t kind either. I was just there, observing, going through to motions of life I guess. If you consider buying food at the grocery store part of the “motions of life”. Anyways, I paid for my stuff and left, pondering about why we choose (or not) kindness.

Let me rewind so you understand what the hell I’m even talking about.

The young man before me at the register was short on money and he had to ask the cashier to take some items away. I thought about offering some change, but I didn’t. The cashier, an old kind women, let him leave with all his items.

What would you have done?

I chose to not be kind twice in the space of 2 minutes. I didn’t offer money to the young man. I didn’t offer money to the cashier who so generously paid the grocery items.

I thought of doing it though.

I consider myself as a kind person. I want others to consider me as a kind person. But I’m not always kind.

Am I a kind person or not?

Does it matter?

Are you a kind person?

Here’s a test to find out.

I don’t think we always need to be kind in order to be a kind person. 

If we had to, I doubt there would be even one kind person on earth.

What should the cut-off be then?

Is it when the amount of instances of kindness outweighs lack of the same?

It is an entirely rhetorical question. (you’re welcome to answer in the comments)

I  guess the more relevant question is not what qualifications are needed to be labelled as kind but why do we chose to be kind and more so to be unkind?

In general terms, one is good and the other is bad. Even psychopaths know which one is socially preferable.Of course, unlike them, our acts of kindness aren’t motivated by selfishness and a will to manipulate but are rather a direct consequence of our moral compass. Or are they?

The truth is, we don’t choose kindness when it is socially acceptable to do so.

Everyone knows that giving money to homeless people is one of the easiest acts of kindness one can do. However, it is absolutely accepted and not frowned upon to not give them money. Hence, the percentage of people who actually stop and drop some change is low.

Our moral compass doesn’t guide us as much as we think.

We don’t walk our talk unless it is beneficial for us to do it. Likewise, we don’t follow through on what we know we should do if it requires any effort or worse, actual perceived negative effects.

It takes practice and discipline to choose kindness. 

Being unkind may be the easy way out but being kind has a lot more appeal which is why, we, deep down, still want to strive for it.

Think of the last time you witnessed an act of kindness, especially the between strangers variety. Or the last time you did something kind for a total stranger.

Remember the nice warm fuzzy feeling?

Being kind brings us happiness. A 2006 study  found that kind people tend to be happier. The interesting part is that they also found that happy people get happier through acts of kindness.

Kind=more happy=happy=kind=even happier

Isn’t that great?

Which brings me back to my main point. We choose kindness when it’s beneficial to us.

Being happy is what you get for being kind.

On the flip side we choose unkindness on many occasions precisely because in the moment it will make us happy. It may sound weird but being unkind does bring us comfort or social acceptance in many situations of daily life.

For every occasion that brings the possibility of us performing an act of kindness, we have to balance out what we value the most; the happiness of sticking to our values or the happiness of comfort, convenience and fitting in.

I chose to keep my money in my wallet. I valued the comfort of having a couple dollars in change over helping the poor boy (I’m a poor girl as well, mind you). Maybe you would have chosen differently.

Case in point, if our moral compass was the sole dictator of our actions, everyone would be vegan.

Turns out, even one of the people who you (and I) would consider to be the kindest on earth is not vegan.

The Dalai-Lama.

He is said to have tried the vegetarian diet but quit for health problems related to his hepatitis (not his diet).

Here we can see that even the “best” of us are inclined to value themselves, their comfort (health) over actually walking their talk.

It is easier to preach compassion than it is to be compassionate.

Nonetheless, here I am, telling you that you should be choosing kindness.

I’m not always kind but I’m trying.

Are you going to try?

p.s. It would be kind to leave a comment

 

 

 

 

*Photo Credit BK Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Carbs Are a Girl’s Best Friend

When I was 10 years old, my dad used to say I would get big like the Tower of Babel if I didn’t stop my obsession with french bread.

It’s been 15 years and baguettes are still what you would call my weakness.

Raise your hand if you can relate. (or more accurately leave a comment)

It may not be bread in your case (though who in the world doesn’t like fresh crunchy bread??) but I bet there’s at least one food you can’t resist.

Carbs are just one of these weaknesses that humans have to live with.

You know, along with needing oxygen and water.

Carbs, oxygen, water.

If I asked you to pick the odd one out, for sure it’d be carbs.

I’m not asking you however.

Some people say they can live without carbs, then they pretend they do.

In life you have two choices, either you eat sugar or you think about sugar.

Why is this simple fact ignored, denied and disputed?

I’m not one to indulge in conspiracy theories but I believe the promotion of carb fear is part of a secret plan to keep us  away from what truly matters.

Let me tell you the story of the Tower of Babel. That same tower that I should be the size of by now.

Even if you’re not familiar with bible stories you should know that at some point there was a flood and Noah build this great ark and survived.

Many generations later humanity was composed of people who all spoke the same language. They moved to a town called Shinar and started to build a tower that they named Babel.

They wanted Babel to be so tall and big that its top would be in the heavens.

God came down and saw their work. Then he said:

“Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.

Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Genesis 11:4-9

This, people, is how we came to have a multitude of languages according to the Bible (yep, we learn something everyday).

Those folks of Shinar wanted to protect themselves and survive, in case another flood would happen. By doing so, they displeased God who, rightly so, found that the best way to keep them from the heavens was to bring division and misunderstanding upon their people.

Why am I even telling you this story you may ask?

I thought it was an interesting coincidence that my dad used the Tower of Babel to warn me about carbs.

Eating too much carbs would make me as big as a tower whose top is in the heavens?

He didn’t know it (still doesn’t) but carbs:

  1. Don’t make you fat
  2. Do lead you straight to heaven

Joking about that last one. (sort of)

Truth is, it feels good to eat sugar.

Some would say, yes, that’s why we have an obesity epidemic. People eat too much sugar.

 

That’s what some obese obesity expert says. (I won’t name names)

I can bet that if I was to open any women’s magazine at this exact moment, I’d find at least one article promoting the restriction of sugar with a high probability of a supporting quote from the infamous doctor mentioned above.

Sugar is poison, sugar causes diabetes. Sugar is a drug.

I’ve had on average 300g of sugar minimum for the past years of my life. Let me tell you, I feel amazing despite being an intoxicated, diabetic drug addict!

In case you didn’t get it, I’m neither of those things.

Carbs are a girl’s best friend. Carbs are every human’s best friend actually.

I’m not going to give a biology class but if you don’t know that carbs are the main source of fuel for our brains you might benefit from taking one.

I would suggest the biggest classroom in the world: Google. Lesson 1: glucose-derive ATP     Teacher’s note: Stay away from any semblance of online versions of women’s magazines

We are told as women both explicitly and indirectly through all forms of messengers to restrict our intake of the most efficient fuel for our brain. Every single day.

I was asked to explain the “carbed up” meaning.

There’s a multitude of reasons but it all comes down to this:

I don’t accept to be confounded by the talk of the diet industry. My mind, body and brain speaks a different language. I’m building my own Tower of Babel.

You can’t do that without carbs.

 

 

 

 

 

*Photo credit France Bon Appétit Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

I love judgmental vegans

Judgmental vegans get a lot of hate, or should I say they get a lot of judgment.

Everyone loves to bash them, even fellow vegans. After all people who bash deserve to be bashed, right?

“But you don’t get it, veganism is supposed to be about compassion towards animals. Humans are animals too. You’re an hypocrite.”

“You attract more bees with honey.”

“I can’t label myself as a vegan because of those stupid judgmental vegans. I don’t want to be associated with them.”

“I’d go vegan but the vegan community is so hostile, it’s a turn off.”

I could go on and on. You’ve probably either read, heard or said any or all of these.

I should put a disclaimer.

I don’t fit the stereotype of the judgmental vegan.

However, I was inspired to become vegan by a judgmental vegan and I ultimately became vegan because I judged myself.

What is a judgmental vegan anyway?

Let’s break it down.

Definitions:

Judgmental: Tending to judge people too quickly and critically (Merriam-Webster)

Vegan: Someone who practices veganism which is, according to The Vegan Society

“A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

In short, it is someone who judges critically anyone that doesn’t practice veganism.

Judging critically doesn’t sound nice.

Yet, I believe that it is necessary.

This may come as a surprise.

After all, those who know me know that:

1- I hate confrontation

2- I hate people who push their personal beliefs on me

3- I am extremely calm and peaceful

I value personal freedom of choice. I also value harmony and wish to maintain good relationships with the meat-eaters in my life that I love dearly.

But.

I love judgmental vegans. 

Let me explain why I think they deserve some love. Maybe you’ll learn to love them too.

Or at least start to understand these loathsome creatures.


Murder, rape, torture, assault, battery. All are violent crimes you can go to jail for. And even die for in some places.

They are also not always wrong.  In fact, it can be a personal choice to commit a violent crime. A choice that should be respected.

If someone said that about humans, they’d be considered a sociopath.

However, to most people and even other vegans, the same violent crimes committed become a personal choice when it doesn’t apply to humans.

Judgmental vegans don’t want to let people exercise their personal choice of murdering beings.

“But you’re so judgmental. Don’t make me feel like I’m a murderer because I eat meat”

I legitimately read that somewhere.

Some people are most definitely in jail right now because they paid someone to kill their significant other, their boss or their life-long enemy.

Are these people murderers or not? They didn’t kill anyone…

I’ll let you judge.

Are we humans pushing our personal beliefs on murderers and rapists?

Some people do believe they are entitled to kill and rape.

Shouldn’t we respect that?

After all, there is no right or wrong. (This one is often said)

We should be compassionate towards all humans.

Yet, we do push our beliefs on people that commit crimes. We’ve built an entire system meant to control and punish them. Even to kill them.

As humans, we’ve decided that some things are indeed wrong.

We’ve also decided that those same things are also right.

Judgmental vegans are not doing anything new. They’re only applying existing beliefs to all species and they want you to do the same.

Respecting and watching passively others participating in the oppression of a group for which you are fighting for the rights doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense for feminism. It doesn’t make sense for racism.

Yet it is asked of us vegans.

Would you think a feminist is judgmental for lashing out to the man who grabbed her butt?

After all, wasn’t it his personal choice to grab her butt?

Are black people judgmental for speaking out against racist jokes?

After all, we have freedom of speech.

“Judgmental” vegans are the only people criticized by their own group fighting for the end of oppression for doing just that -fighting oppression-

You may say that the above comparisons are not valid. You can’t compare apples with oranges.

I will tell you this. Why not?

They’re both fruits.

Humans are animals too. Indeed they are.

What is your take on judgmental vegans? Do you still hate them with a fiery passion or will you tolerate them from now on?

*Remember no one is evil and no one is implying that you are. Certainly not me. (Read my article on being evil)

*Photo credit Michel Abassi Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Finding space for creativity

As a kid, I spent hours pretending I was locked in the closet.

It was small with old mostly blank ugly walls. That’s what I liked about it. I had to imagine I was somewhere else or I would develop claustrophobia. There was just enough space for me to sit down with my legs half stretched out.

Truth be told, I’ve never found a better space for creativity since then.

Oh, I tried. I’m still trying.

That’s the thing. You can never give up on creativity.

It’s the ultimate privilege of our human condition. Arguably one of our only redeeming qualities.

Although you may not consider yourself to be a creative person, you are. Creativity lays dormant in all of us. It’s tossing and turning, stirring deep inside, even in the most banal lives.

If you don’t find space for it, it will try to seep in every way possible. You’ll suppress it again and again until you’ve either had enough or you’re lying on your deathbed reminiscing on your boring life.

Who in the world wants that?

I sure don’t.

Yet, up until not too long ago, I suppressed my creative urges.

I’m definitely not the only one.

How many times have you said to yourself I would do *blank* if only I had time? Or money? Or no kids? Or a proper office? Or whatever it is you think you need?

Let me assure you, your creativity doesn’t care.

It will come and taunt you at your most vulnerable time.

Literally.

72% of people report getting their best ideas in the shower.

I’m more of a dish washing creative thinker myself.

The point is, we get ideas, sometime brilliant ideas whether we like it or not.

The problem is most of them never leave the shower or sink. Actually, they go down the drain.

The only antidote is to find a space for creativity beyond shower time.

Although time may seem like the most important variable, it’s not.

All the free time in the world cannot and will not bring about your creativity.

Not without locking yourself in your own closet first, metaphorically speaking (or not).

The most creative you want to be, the smaller it should be.

Creativity thrives in bare environments.

Since we’re all adults here and spending hours in the closet is not really possible (unless you have a walk-in, then be my guest), how do we make a metaphorical closet?

It’s not rocket science and you’ve probably guessed it by now: You have to eliminate all distractions. And I really do mean ALL.

Your should rely on your brain for distraction.

In other words, my recommendations are:

1- Pretend you’re locked away in the smallest closet you’ve ever seen. You can also pretend you’re in solitary confinement aka jail.

2- Bore yourself to death (it’s only fitting)

Those may seem cruel but let me remind you that a boring life is a death sentence in itself.

If you’re never bored you’re destined to a boring life. 

I do appreciate the irony.

 

 

 

*Picture credit: Steven Kay Creative Commons 2.0