As people shop in stores or online for holiday gifts, there is a gift that can be given free but has a lasting effect. One of the most valuable gifts we can give that does not cost anything to buy is loving kindness. Loving kindness is one of the most powerful forces in the world.
Kindness has so much power that it attracts the heart. It fills the heart with love for another. If we cultivated kindness within ourselves, we would see people flock to us.
Part of loving kindness is knowing how to speak to others. This involves not only knowing how to clearly express what we mean, but how to say it in a way that builds friendship and cooperation.
Think of how many ways there are to ask for a glass of water. One can say in a bossy way, “Give me water now.” One can say in an egotistical way, “It’s more important that you bring me water than take care of your own needs. So, stop any important work you’re doing to bring me my water.” One can say it in a neutral way, “Bring me water.” Or one can say it in a polite way, “Would you be so kind as to bring me water?” or “Could you kindly bring some water?” or “I’d appreciate it greatly if you could help me out and bring me some water.”
Which ones sounds better to you? The message communicated is to bring the water, but the tone and style of how we speak makes a big difference in how we relate to others.
What is the effect on others if we speak in a bossy way? They will feel we are trying to rule over them. If we speak in an egotistical way, others won’t feel like equal partners. If we are polite, others will develop a closer relationship with us.
It is important that we learn how to clearly speak what we want but in a loving, polite way. If we are a team leader or head of a department, no one will want to work with us if we are rude, impolite, or unkind. Even if we work with our peers, we want to build relationships and friendships rather than build walls. Loving kindness helps to tear down walls between people.
Much of our outer lives are influenced by our relationship with others. We have relationships with members of our family, friends, and acquaintances. We have contact with our neighbors. Outside of our family are many other relations, such as aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents, and grandchildren. We form relationships in our places of work. Those who engage in recreation meet other people involved in the same activities. We even have contact with strangers, whether we pass them on a street, drive alongside them on a highway, or meet them in a store or crowded public place.
It is hardly possible to live in modern society without interaction with others. Even if one tries to sit at home as a hermit, one has to meet people, whether it is the person delivering the mail, the cashier we pay when we buy food from a store, a gas station attendant who we pay when we fill up our car, or a medical doctor we must see when ill. There is no way to avoid interactions.
If we want to make each interaction a positive one, then we can do so by spreading kindness.
This holiday season, as we make purchases online or in brick-and-mortar stores for gifts for family, friends, and co-workers, let us also put into our shopping cart a gift that costs nothing but is priceless. Spreading kindness to all we meet is the best holiday gift of all.
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