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Letting Your Kindness Shine Through

How can we develop the strength of kindness?

Key points

  • Anger is the path of unhappiness.
  • We must make the decision every day to believe that unkindness is a poison that we don’t want to drink or pass on to anyone else.
  • Most of us are not unkind, we’re simply conditioned to be cruel when we’re angry.

It’s easier now more than ever to emit cruelty and anger through the internet. Many people forget that when they write mean messages that there is an actual person on the receiving end who has feelings. The person who is receiving those messages can either pass their own anger onto others, perpetuating a cruel cycle, or they may choose to let their kindness outshine their anger. I personally believe that if we all allowed our own kindness to win daily, we would be happier, and the world would be brighter.

Today, I want to explore how we ourselves can develop the strength of kindness.

First, let’s explore the concept of anger. I believe that anger has two components:

  1. What we feel
  2. What we do with our feelings

We all feel anger, but there is a key difference between those who feel their anger and pass that feeling on and those that process it in a healthy way.

Anger is not the best path for us to deal with our emotions. If part of us thinks our anger is justified, we end up giving ourselves permission to express our anger. The more we give our minds permission to get angry at others, the more we’ll end up lashing out at others.

People who overcome this must retrain their minds to believe that anger is the path of unhappiness. This doesn’t mean you no longer can feel that anger, but it’s important to find a different way to express it.

How do we choose kindness in moments when we’re feeling angry?

The key here is that we must make the decision every day to believe that unkindness is a poison that we don’t want to drink or pass on to anyone else. This doesn’t mean we should allow people to walk all over us but it’s important that we find ways to stand up for ourselves in a kind, respectable way. When people do this, what they find is a lot more happiness in their hearts because they have learned how to quickly let their anger go.

Tangible ways to let our kindness override our anger.

When we mess up and we’re unkind with our words and actions, it’s important to practice kindness towards ourselves. Being angry towards ourselves perpetuates the cycle of practicing cruelty. A lot of the time, people are unkind because that’s how they’ve been conditioned to communicate and express their emotions. Most of us are not unkind, we’re simply conditioned to be cruel when we’re angry. When we practice kindness with ourselves, we’re reconditioning ourselves to be kind in all situations.

We don’t have a handle on what emotions arise from us, but what we can do is stop and observe our emotions. When we get good at this practice, it may sound like this internal dialogue, “this person has made me very upset and I want to give them a piece of my mind. But, I vowed to let my kindness shine through always, so what can I do?”

Sometimes, all we need to do is take a big breath in and out, or to physically remove ourselves from the situation to keep our cool. Sometimes, when we take a breath or walk away, we gain the space we need to calm down and let the anger dissipate. As a result, we save ourselves from causing damage or hurt to the other person.

Sometimes we’re in situations where we are not able to leave. When we’re in those moments, it’s important to be quiet with yourself and focus on your own breath, trying to calm your heart.

If you do have the option, taking a long walk can help make you feel better. What you might find on the other side of that silence or walk is a lighter heart.

I remember once, years ago, a person said something very unkind to me. I was going on a solo backpacking trip that day and allowed myself to feel my feelings, work through that anger, and then set it free. It is possible to take a hot moment filled with anger and make it cooler. We just have to do something to make this happen.

Third, we can look at anger in a different way to gain an alternative perspective. To break the cycle of anger, we ourselves have to release our emotions in a healthier way. Even better, we can train ourselves to blame the person’s conditioning for their actions or words, not the person themselves.

In order to make kindness an automatic response, we must practice it throughout the day. Eventually, we might even learn how to say something kind back.

It’s normal to feel angry sometimes. The emotion is not the problem, it’s how we respond to that emotion that can lead to trouble. We have the ability to enrich our own lives through these small changes, and, perhaps, to eventually change the world.