Recently I found the following on Pinterest:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. The quote, often attributed to Plato or others, seems most likely to be the words of Scottish theologian Ian Maclaren. Whoever first said it, it remains true at least a century later, as evidenced by something my stepsister shared on Facebook the other day:
Everyone will go through hard times at some point. Life isn’t easy. For all my friends who are going through some issues right now, let’s start an intention avalanche. We all need positive intentions right now.
Then the hubs brought home a Chipotle bag featuring “Two Minutes of Rambling Wisdom” by Judd Apatow. (If you haven’t read it, click the link. It’s worth your two minutes.) For the CliffsNotes version, read on:
Don’t be a jerk. Try to love everyone. Give more than you take. And do it despite the fact that you only really like about seven out of 500 people.
All of these recent experiences coalesced to remind me of something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while now: Kindness.
“Everybody Hurts” is more than the name of an REM song. It’s a reminder of the beautiful, heartbreaking, uplifting, and devastating journey we’re all on together.
There’s a lot going on in the world and in the lives of people I know right now: A couple of our friends are battling cancer. Family members recently lost a dear friend in a tragic accident. My Facebook feed is lit up with children in hospitals, family members held captive in foreign countries, layoffs—large and small signs that life can be hard.
Is this selection bias? Maybe. If life is going swimmingly for you right now, take a pause to count your blessings. Today’s message is for you, too.
I basically have three rules for life—and really, when I think about it, it’s only one rule in the form of a step-by-step ladder to mastery. So, that rule is:
- Be conscious. If you can’t be conscious…
- Be kind. If you can’t be kind…
- Avoid causing harm.
That’s it. I’ll admit right now that I have not mastered any one of these steps. Instead, I rely on them to help me be the person I want to be.
In case there’s any question about what I mean by them:
Be conscious. Be aware of how your belief systems, thoughts, and actions affect other people. Open your mind to how the choices you make on a daily basis—what you eat, what you buy, how you choose to live—affect our society and planet.
Be kind. As Judd said, you may only like seven out of every 500 people. That’s ok, they probably feel the same about you. Choose to be kind anyway.
Avoid causing harm. If you can’t be kind, try to avoid making another being’s life worse. Choose not to litter, or kick a dog, or retaliate for a perceived slight. It’s not really worth it, is it? We’re all in this thing together.
I know—It’s not always possible to avoid causing someone harm inadvertently. Still, having the intention is often enough.
How are you practicing the art of life today?