Thoughts On Kindness

by Mark Lovett on June 26, 2009

Tweeting About Kindess

I created the Key Words page on this blog some time ago with the intent of writing a post for each word listed. Unfortunately, time continued to slip through my fingers and the task remained undone. But today I was having lunch in a nearby restaurant, a fork in one hand, my iPhone in the other – checking email and glancing at the Twitter stream.

The thought came to me in a flash, as thoughts often do over a leisurely  meal, that I’m very blessed when it comes to my friends. They’re always there for me, ready to lend a hand, offer advice, or just listen.  They can be brutally honest at times, but their intent is always positive and enlightening. Within that realization the word kindness came to mind, and I immediately sent out this tweet:

The world thrives on acts of kindness.

Have you committed one today?

If so, tweet it and inspire others!

My intent was simple; if you’ve committed an act of kindness, send out a tweet for all to see, and hopefully that message will inspire others to do the same, because kindness is viral by nature.

Photo by Heath Brandon

Photo courtesy of Heath Brandon

Within minutes it was retweeted by @EGoddess. Remember the comment about my kind friends? Katie Villarreal and her husband Ricardo are perfect examples. Minutes later I saw a tweet from @sampsa (Sampsa Kiianmaa) in Helsinki, Finland:

@GlobalPatriot Good idea, to post one kind act per day.

I smiled…the world gets it…kindness abounds…how cool is that! But one minute later…

…the following tweet appeared:

@GlobalPatriot Kindness is subjective and can’t be determined by the one

responsible for the behavior – true kindness is determined by others.

WTF!? (I’m assuming you know the translation) I said aloud to the surprise of those dining near me. I had to read it a second time just to be certain that I hadn’t misinterpreted their meaning, I hadn’t. While driving home I contemplated the meaning of that statement.

Assume a woman drops her purse. I pick it up and hand it to her. If she says Thank You and smiles, then I’ve committed an act of kindness. If she says nothing and walks away, the kindness is negated.

Really? Just my opinion, mind you, but I have to call BS on that point of view. Kindness is kindness, regardless of whether or not it is acknowledged or appreciated. And what do scholars have to say?

Photo courtesy of torisan3500

Photo courtesy of torisan3500

Dictionary definitions vary, but this one from The Free Dictionary was quite accurate in my book:

kindness – the quality of being warmhearted and considerate and humane and sympathetic

You will notice it does not say, “someone’s interpretation as to whether you are warmhearted…”

My favorite definition of kindness, however, comes from His Holiness, The Dalai Lama:

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.

Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

What about you? How do you define kindness? Will the world become a better place if each of us embodies the essence of being kind to one another? I would like to know your thoughts!

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

misbaah June 14, 2010 at 2:34 pm

itz good not bad

Reply

misbaah June 14, 2010 at 7:34 am

itz good not bad

Reply

Derek Reinhard July 1, 2009 at 10:09 am

Some subtle shading in this conversation:

Committing kindness is an action; being kind is a state (which, if it is true, will result in acts of kindness). But let’s not wait until we “feel” kind to do kindness.

For some reason, part of the holy equation is that our own state of being grows because of our acts of [intended] kindness–we cannot sit waiting and working on becoming kind before we act kindly; it’s an iterative process where our own soul is added to/transformed by the acts (and hopefully the motivation) to do kindness for kindness’ sake.

Next time around, our act of kindness may be just a little bit more motivated by being kind….

Not to forget Micah 6:8

@DeeperMissions
.-= Derek Reinhard´s last blog ..Why Volunteer? =-.

Reply

GlobalPatriot July 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm

I agree Derek that the nature of kindness is an iterative process, a combination of the feeling and the doing, and hopefully the more we feel the more we do, and the more we do the more we feel…and in the end, “our own state of being grows”…well said.

Reply

Derek Reinhard July 1, 2009 at 3:09 am

Some subtle shading in this conversation:

Committing kindness is an action; being kind is a state (which, if it is true, will result in acts of kindness). But let’s not wait until we “feel” kind to do kindness.

For some reason, part of the holy equation is that our own state of being grows because of our acts of [intended] kindness–we cannot sit waiting and working on becoming kind before we act kindly; it’s an iterative process where our own soul is added to/transformed by the acts (and hopefully the motivation) to do kindness for kindness’ sake.

Next time around, our act of kindness may be just a little bit more motivated by being kind….

Not to forget Micah 6:8

@DeeperMissions
.-= Derek Reinhard´s last blog ..Why Volunteer? =-.

Reply

Global Patriot July 1, 2009 at 9:06 am

I agree Derek that the nature of kindness is an iterative process, a combination of the feeling and the doing, and hopefully the more we feel the more we do, and the more we do the more we feel…and in the end, “our own state of being grows”…well said.

Reply

Stacy Kamala Waltman June 29, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Ahhhh…kindness which is different from being nice. There is a sweetness to kindness, a gentleness of spirit and a subtle acknowledgment that we are interconnected and interdependent.

“There but for the grace of God go I – for better or for worse.” (paraphrase)

To be kind is to be connected without expectation, to act without hoping for reciprocation. For me there is no ego in kindness, no show – just genuine heart.

Kindness springs from a happy heart. Being nice calculates from the head.

Only a kind man could create this forum~

Reply

Global Patriot July 1, 2009 at 9:11 am

I appreciate your mention of “interconnected and interdependent” Stacy. That notion is at the core of the Global Patriot movement. Everything is connected, and being kind – to each other, to animals, to nature – brings with it such reward.

Reply

Stacy Kamala Waltman June 30, 2009 at 1:54 am

Ahhhh…kindness which is different from being nice. There is a sweetness to kindness, a gentleness of spirit and a subtle acknowledgment that we are interconnected and interdependent.

“There but for the grace of God go I – for better or for worse.” (paraphrase)

To be kind is to be connected without expectation, to act without hoping for reciprocation. For me there is no ego in kindness, no show – just genuine heart.

Kindness springs from a happy heart. Being nice calculates from the head.

Only a kind man could create this forum~

Reply

GlobalPatriot July 1, 2009 at 4:11 pm

I appreciate your mention of “interconnected and interdependent” Stacy. That notion is at the core of the Global Patriot movement. Everything is connected, and being kind – to each other, to animals, to nature – brings with it such reward.

Reply

Tiara June 29, 2009 at 5:05 pm

I think what the person was trying to say was that there are many times where what we think is “kindness” is really inconveniencing the other person. We do things thinking they’re ‘kind’, when really we haven’t taken the other person into account – we’ve just assumed we know what they want.

My parents do this a lot. They tend to arrange every little thing – I’d say out loud my intention to go up to town and they’ll have an army of cars. Or they’d proclaim that they’d help me do errands…which then become a complicated chain. It would be easier and much calmer if they’d just let me do it, but they think that me doing anything = hardship onoz!

Kindness is ultimately about the other person, not ourselves. To really be kind we need to tune in to what the other person needs.
.-= Tiara´s last blog ..Acapella Toto’s “Africa” – being moved out of a funk [2] =-.

Reply

Global Patriot July 1, 2009 at 9:18 am

There is a fine point to the notion of kindness Tiara, in that what we think is kind may not be received as such – the example with your parents is one such representation.

That would imply that true kindness is also about recognizing and accepting the reaction of others, and if a particular act of kindness (based on the giver’s intent) is not well received, the next act of kindness would be to respect their wishes and end that behavior.

So I think that kindness is about the combination of ourselves and the other person.

Reply

Tiara June 30, 2009 at 12:05 am

I think what the person was trying to say was that there are many times where what we think is “kindness” is really inconveniencing the other person. We do things thinking they’re ‘kind’, when really we haven’t taken the other person into account – we’ve just assumed we know what they want.

My parents do this a lot. They tend to arrange every little thing – I’d say out loud my intention to go up to town and they’ll have an army of cars. Or they’d proclaim that they’d help me do errands…which then become a complicated chain. It would be easier and much calmer if they’d just let me do it, but they think that me doing anything = hardship onoz!

Kindness is ultimately about the other person, not ourselves. To really be kind we need to tune in to what the other person needs.
.-= Tiara´s last blog ..Acapella Toto’s “Africa” – being moved out of a funk [2] =-.

Reply

GlobalPatriot July 1, 2009 at 4:18 pm

There is a fine point to the notion of kindness Tiara, in that what we think is kind may not be received as such – the example with your parents is one such representation.

That would imply that true kindness is also about recognizing and accepting the reaction of others, and if a particular act of kindness (based on the giver’s intent) is not well received, the next act of kindness would be to respect their wishes and end that behavior.

So I think that kindness is about the combination of ourselves and the other person.

Reply

Giovanna Garcia June 29, 2009 at 3:45 am

Hi Mark

I love this post because of its message. We do need more kindness. For me kindness means to act and treat the world the way I wish the world to be. Another word instead of wishing the world to be more like… I give out or act out the way I wish the world to be.
That is kindness to me, not looking for gain just looking to give out what I wish to see.
Thanks for sharing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action
.-= Giovanna Garcia´s last blog ..Is there a short cut to success? =-.

Reply

GlobalPatriot July 1, 2009 at 4:21 pm

That’s a good way to put it Giovanna, that kindness is often about how we want to be treated, and that we should act that way without any expectation of gain, just give because it’s the right thing to do.

Reply

Giovanna Garcia June 28, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Hi Mark

I love this post because of its message. We do need more kindness. For me kindness means to act and treat the world the way I wish the world to be. Another word instead of wishing the world to be more like… I give out or act out the way I wish the world to be.
That is kindness to me, not looking for gain just looking to give out what I wish to see.
Thanks for sharing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action
.-= Giovanna Garcia´s last blog ..Is there a short cut to success? =-.

Reply

Global Patriot July 1, 2009 at 9:21 am

That’s a good way to put it Giovanna, that kindness is often about how we want to be treated, and that we should act that way without any expectation of gain, just give because it’s the right thing to do.

Reply

Jaime Barclay June 28, 2009 at 9:57 am

Thank you so much for your thoughts on kindness, I am humbled that my random RT caused a reaction for further investigation. I attempt to live each day truly present and to be truly genuine, authentic, and kind simply for the purpose of being genuine, authentic, and kind. I love that a 140character post can cause emotion–leading to thought and action.

Helping someone pick up their spilled bag in a busy walkway is kind. Letting drivers ahead of you in a traffic jam is courteous. Holding the door for someone is thoughtful. Regardless of whether the person who spilled their bag thinks you’re trying to steal from them, the driver flips you off anyway, or the person walking through the door forgets to say “Thank You”.

These acts of kindness are all behaviors. Behaviors can be reinforced, shaped, extinguished and have very different meanings. I appreciate that you shared your thoughts on kindness and I wish/hope that others will be inspired by your words and commit acts of kindness without thinking what they will get from others in return.

Reply

Global Patriot June 28, 2009 at 11:37 am

I love the trio of “genuine, authentic, and kind” combined with your closing:

“commit acts of kindness without thinking what they will get from others in return”

If we can all live this way, from the heart, not expecting a reward, the world will be a much better place. And I thank you for inspiring me, in under 140 characters, to put these thoughts about kindness down on (electronic) paper.

Reply

Jaime Barclay June 28, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Thank you so much for your thoughts on kindness, I am humbled that my random RT caused a reaction for further investigation. I attempt to live each day truly present and to be truly genuine, authentic, and kind simply for the purpose of being genuine, authentic, and kind. I love that a 140character post can cause emotion–leading to thought and action.

Helping someone pick up their spilled bag in a busy walkway is kind. Letting drivers ahead of you in a traffic jam is courteous. Holding the door for someone is thoughtful. Regardless of whether the person who spilled their bag thinks you’re trying to steal from them, the driver flips you off anyway, or the person walking through the door forgets to say “Thank You”.

These acts of kindness are all behaviors. Behaviors can be reinforced, shaped, extinguished and have very different meanings. I appreciate that you shared your thoughts on kindness and I wish/hope that others will be inspired by your words and commit acts of kindness without thinking what they will get from others in return.

Reply

GlobalPatriot June 28, 2009 at 6:37 pm

I love the trio of “genuine, authentic, and kind” combined with your closing:

“commit acts of kindness without thinking what they will get from others in return”

If we can all live this way, from the heart, not expecting a reward, the world will be a much better place. And I thank you for inspiring me, in under 140 characters, to put these thoughts about kindness down on (electronic) paper.

Reply

Jacques June 28, 2009 at 12:18 am

The naysayer is off base. If the recipient of some kind act is not aware of a kindness being bestowed upon him/her/it (include animals), that has no effect on the kindness itself. It is the basis of all that should be human nature. “Do unto others…” says a lot to this issue and one that I try to follow daily; letting an aggressive driver into a lane, allowing someone to cross the street in front of me instead of waiting for me to pass while at the grocery store, to saying “good morning” to a passer-by while out on my walk. Kindness is kindness and is not subject to interpretation (unless someone just doesn’t get it. Pass on a kindness each day. It always feels good.

Reply

Global Patriot June 28, 2009 at 7:58 am

“Do unto others…” is an age-old approach that continues to have relevance today, and treating others this way has the potential to change their way of thinking; a very powerful paradigm!

Reply

Jacques June 28, 2009 at 7:18 am

The naysayer is off base. If the recipient of some kind act is not aware of a kindness being bestowed upon him/her/it (include animals), that has no effect on the kindness itself. It is the basis of all that should be human nature. “Do unto others…” says a lot to this issue and one that I try to follow daily; letting an aggressive driver into a lane, allowing someone to cross the street in front of me instead of waiting for me to pass while at the grocery store, to saying “good morning” to a passer-by while out on my walk. Kindness is kindness and is not subject to interpretation (unless someone just doesn’t get it. Pass on a kindness each day. It always feels good.

Reply

GlobalPatriot June 28, 2009 at 2:58 pm

“Do unto others…” is an age-old approach that continues to have relevance today, and treating others this way has the potential to change their way of thinking; a very powerful paradigm!

Reply

Katie June 27, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Hi Mark-
I’m honored to be mentioned in this post. We enjoy making the world a better place, one kind act at a time. It takes such little effort on our part, yet literally makes a world of difference.

Reply

GlobalPatriot June 28, 2009 at 2:47 pm

You’re right Katie, it doesn’t take much effort, just a mindset that life should be lived from a place of kindness to others, then you actions each day are simply a reflection of that belief.

Reply

Katie June 27, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Hi Mark-
I’m honored to be mentioned in this post. We enjoy making the world a better place, one kind act at a time. It takes such little effort on our part, yet literally makes a world of difference.

Reply

Global Patriot June 28, 2009 at 7:47 am

You’re right Katie, it doesn’t take much effort, just a mindset that life should be lived from a place of kindness to others, then you actions each day are simply a reflection of that belief.

Reply

Therese June 26, 2009 at 11:14 pm

The world would be a better place if all of us did just one kind act a day. In fact I think we are obligated to ‘pay it forward’ per say whether it be a lesson learned, a friend or a complete stranger helping you, we should do those same things for others.

I was at a conference this past week, and it cost $38 for the shuttle to the hotel and back to the airport, a kind and awesome tweep I met there offered to drive me to the airport. At first I was loving the fact that I was going to save $38, and then I remembered I did not budget for tips, I hardly ever travel so it does not come natural for me to remember that I need to budget for those things, anyway instead I tipped way more than what I would have if I did budget for it, I tipped like 3 employees of the hotel within 2 hours, but I felt that I should pay the kindness forward.

Not to continue to make this a book or anything, but kindness is kindness, it does not matter if someone is too jaded, prideful or whatever they may be, you still preformed an act of kindness. With that I will end this with a quote that I love that speaks to not letting negative people dictate who you are, or that’s how I take it.

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.”
.-= Therese´s last blog ..Do You Clean? I Don’t =-.

Reply

GlobalPatriot June 27, 2009 at 7:52 pm

You sum it up so well Therese when you say:

“Be kind anyway. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.”

Reply

Therese June 26, 2009 at 4:14 pm

The world would be a better place if all of us did just one kind act a day. In fact I think we are obligated to ‘pay it forward’ per say whether it be a lesson learned, a friend or a complete stranger helping you, we should do those same things for others.

I was at a conference this past week, and it cost $38 for the shuttle to the hotel and back to the airport, a kind and awesome tweep I met there offered to drive me to the airport. At first I was loving the fact that I was going to save $38, and then I remembered I did not budget for tips, I hardly ever travel so it does not come natural for me to remember that I need to budget for those things, anyway instead I tipped way more than what I would have if I did budget for it, I tipped like 3 employees of the hotel within 2 hours, but I felt that I should pay the kindness forward.

Not to continue to make this a book or anything, but kindness is kindness, it does not matter if someone is too jaded, prideful or whatever they may be, you still preformed an act of kindness. With that I will end this with a quote that I love that speaks to not letting negative people dictate who you are, or that’s how I take it.

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.”
.-= Therese´s last blog ..Do You Clean? I Don’t =-.

Reply

Global Patriot June 27, 2009 at 12:52 pm

You sum it up so well Therese when you say:

“Be kind anyway. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.”

Reply

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