I just started reading The Kindness Handbook by Sharon Salzburg. On the very first page I’m encouraged:
It takes boldness, even audacity, to step out of our habitual patterns and experiment with a quality like kindness …… Kindness can manifest as compassion, as generosity, as paying attention.
In just that first paragraph there are two concepts presented that are mind blowing and I believe the key to change.
1. That we can “experiment” with kindness by stepping beyond habit is such a lovely idea. I love the word experiment. Sometimes making changes like this can seem like you are taking on the largest project and one that is unending in its burden. But, by using the word experiment you avoid committment which I think is fine. You try different things. Perhaps one day you muster up just a little bit more patience for a difficult customer. Maybe one day, you choose to treat yourself with a little bit more kindness. Maybe you extend a kindness to a coworker, share your snack or inquire about something that has been troubling them.
2. That kindness can “manifest” as “paying attention.” I love, love, love this idea. This is exactly what I mean when I suggest that we refrain from using our cell phones while checking out at the cashier. By paying attention, being more present, we are offering that person a kindness. I would have never put it that way; but, it resonates with me.
I read one of Sharon Salzburg’s previous books, Lovingkindness, several years ago and it has been a book that I return to and read certain passages over and over. It is so important to keep thinking about kindness: how we express it and how we receive it.