I thought I would wrap this series up with a few thoughts about what, to me, makes kindness possible on an every day basis.
I mentioned a couple of weeks back that one of the reasons why people forget kindness is that they wrap their sense of self-identity around something – often a goal or status. When somebody else intrudes on that – achieves ‘their’ ambition, or tips one of their sacred cows – the rules of common etiquette and courtesy seem to be lifted. Kindness disappears amidst a sudden frenzy of avenging anger.
It’s a pitfall into which humanity seem to keep plunging. Is there a way around it? Sure. One answer, it seems to me, is in being quietly self-confident.
I don’t mean arrogant, or hubris-laden, or self-entitled. These are, of themselves, roads away from kindness. I mean, quietly , modestly self-confident. Feeling secure in yourself. To me, modest self-confidence means:
1. Accepting mistakes – and figuring out how to not repeat ‘em. ‘Sure, I stuffed up. But I know better for next time’.
2. Being prepared to learn.
3. Being secure in your own beliefs, meaning that you are not threatened by the beliefs of others.
4. Humility. There is a difference between arrogant self-entitlement and self-confidence. Self-confident people, in general, seldom indulge in exercises of ego and power over others. No need; they feel secure enough in their own sense of identity.
It’s not always an easy pathway. I think western society, in particular, leans against it. I think the human condition, in general, carries aspects that lean against it. But I think quiet self-confidence – based on humility, acceptance and tolerance – also fosters kindness.
And hey – at the end of the day, it all boils down to one thing. Being nice to people isn’t hard. Often it costs nothing – a simple smile, holding a door open. Little things count as much as the big gestures. And the rewards never stop.
What do you figure?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013
Coming up later this week: more writing tips. And a new series – the funny side of real science. Starting with UFO’s. Good for a laugh? Oh yes.