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

2 thoughts on “Choosing Kindness

  1. I haven’t given this a ton of thought, but my gut response is that a kind person is someone who strives to be kind as often as they can. It doesn’t mean they’re ALWAYS kind, just that they try to do their best.

    Like

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