“My religion is kindness.” ~Dalai Lama
“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” ~Theodore Isaac Rubin
At the ripe young age of 76, it hit me this week like a ton of feathers that my life has been a journey from niceness (a passive quality) to kindness (an active one). Wrote David Levithan, “Kindness connects to who you are, while niceness connects to how you want to be seen.”
I grew up in a family where meanness stomped all over niceness. My mom’s parents lived with us when I was age 4 to 12, and the only one in the house with a kindness backbone was grandma Lena. She was smart enough to keep her mouth shut, so what she passed on to me that saved my soul came through her knowing eyes. Whether sitting by the window and knitting, which she did much of the day, or clanking through the house on crutches and a wooden leg, when we crossed paths she never failed to convey a potent micro-dose of loving kindness to me through her eyes.
In letting me know I was okay, a door to self-kindness cracked open a bit within me.
This week it occurred to me that she likely knew exactly what she was doing as she systematically administered the healing power of kindness to the chubby, lonely, preternaturally self-conscious misfit under her roof. Without those thousands of silent interventions I doubt that I would have had the inner resources to recover somewhat intact from my childhood. Ultimately, those moments allowed me to go on to treat thousands of others to the massive doses of kind regard that makes Speaking Circles the safest space on earth for accessing one’s truest voice, even via Zoom.
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” ~Dalai Lama