Thursday, August 6, 2015

Kindness matters to everyone

Kindness matters to everyone

Charlotte Lankard
clankard@oklahoman.com
Kindness. I speak of it often. I think it matters. Others agree with me.

American writer Henry James said there are three things in human life that are important: “The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind ” Mark Twain called kindness the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. And English author Samuel Johnson believed kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not. The Talmud says the highest wisdom is kindness.

So, what does kindness look like? I don’t think it means you have to agree with everyone, but I do think it means using a soft voice and NOT using hurtful, ugly words — especially important to remember when you are upset.

Believe it or not, kindness is sometimes doing nothing. I once heard a speaker say, “Never miss an opportunity to make another happy, even if you have to leave them alone in order to do it ” That must have been what the Dalai Lama had in mind when he admonished, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them ”

My mother was not a perfect parent — there are none — but the one thing I never saw her do was to be unkind to anyone. I do not remember her ever screaming, yelling or saying anything hurtful. She taught me the Bible verse as a child that she also modeled for me, “Be ye kind one to another” (Ephesians 4:32).

Kindness is a habit. It may not come easily to people who did not grow up with it, but it can be practiced until it becomes real.

I have come to believe that kindness may be the most important asset in any relationship, be that with a family member, friend, partner or spouse, boss or employee or the clerk behind the counter.

Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at clankard@oklahoman.com.