This is a simple concept, yet rare to find on an every day basis. I hear too many stories lately of insensitivity in our day-to-day lives. I am not sure what is causing this lack of compassion. Perhaps it is the stress of a struggling economy or the dehumanization in our technological world. Or maybe we have become a society of "I" instead of "we".
I have experienced great loss in my life, as have many people. During this time of grieving, I have learned that the concepts of kindness and compassion need some tweaking.
For example, my son was only 7 when my husband committed suicide, yet was told soon after that his daddy had gone to live in hell. I, who had found my husband hanging in a closet with kids screaming "daddy, daddy" over my shoulder, was told to "wake up one morning and say today is the day I am over this." One of my closest friends told me only months after the suicide that she simply didn't have the "energy to deal with it all" and completely stepped out of my life. My daughter suffered severe anxiety attacks after witnessing this tragedy, yet people to this day fail to see her dad's suicide as the trigger for her ongoing insecurity and nervous habits. You may be shocked to read these examples, but they are true and all said by someone who called us a friend. We wounded souls needed compassion, but instead received judgment.
My experiences have caused me to change my view of the world and to redefine my definition of friend. To me, a friend is someone who gives the benefit of the doubt at all times until proven differently. A friend is someone who encourages and inspires rather than doubts and mocks. A friend is someone who loves unconditionally rather than bails at the first hint of trouble. A friend does say "I'm sorry" when necessary. A friend has boundless energy when needed to help another in crisis. A friend sees the best in me and loves me even at my worst.
Friendships are like palm trees that bend and sway against a hurricane, but only those with deep roots stand tall at the end of the storm. Be the kind of friend who grows deep roots. More than that, be the person who is kind without keeping a running tally and who shows compassion for a neighbor or stranger expecting nothing in return.
Kindness and compassion are habits we cannot afford to lose in today's busy and tech savvy world. Today I ask you to not only show these traits to others, but to feel them down deep in your heart. When you see a stranger, smile rather than avoid eye contact. See what happens! I bet you'll get a smile in return. When you feel irritation churn in your gut, replace it with compassion and look at the situation from someone else's point of view. You may be surprised at what you see. And if there is someone you know who is struggling, have the energy to express kindness rather than judgment.
As the saying goes, everyone we meet is fighting some kind of battle...the man who cuts you off in traffic...the cashier at the supermarket who mutters beneath her breath...the teller at the bank who won't make eye contact...the neighbor who never waves back. Looking through eyes filled with kindness changes our perception of the entire world.
What can you do today to show kindness and compassion while expecting nothing in return? Trust me...when you expect nothing, you receive more than you ever imagined in the long run.