I sat across from my boss in our usual Monday meeting, the fragrant steam from our coffee mugs dancing between us. We discussed the week’s goals and he asked as he always does, “What were the highlights and challenges you experienced last week?” He asked whether I’d had any unpleasant encounters with people, noting that past marketers in my position reported being treated poorly.
“I have not noticed this,” I replied. “Maybe I’ve been unobservant, or perhaps I’m simply not looking for offense.”
I don’t make a habit, as some do, of searching for slights. I have a family member who seems to have a radar for insults. She can spot an eye roll from across the room, or catch insolence the way lizards snatch flies from thin air. She often prods me to “defend” myself in certain situations, even when I don’t feel attacked. Perhaps she and I are on opposite sides of the “offense” spectrum, and maybe I’m too tolerant while she’s too tense. Still, I’d rather reach for roses and risk being pricked by a thorn than never hold flowers again.
As American composer and lyricist Irvin Berlin said, “Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” I prefer to take it lightly.
This aforementioned family member wins every “battle.” She’s always amassing some apology offerings: gift cards to restaurants where service was poor, refunds from purchases that exceeded the return date, and even a large cash payout for some mishap in the store. Her motto: the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Although she always seems to find justice, I wonder if she’s trading it for peace.
I ‘ve been taken advantage of more than a few times – who hasn’t? As Al Capone (and more recently, Rhianna) have expressed, sometimes kindness is mistaken for weakness. Taylor Swift was right when she said, “Players gonna play…haters gonna hate…” (I do believe I’ve offered enough pop culture references now). But remaining kind keeps my heart supple and receptive to beauty and love. Therefore, I believe kindness should be more a lifestyle than a reaction –something we are, not something we do. As any writer knows, kindness is a noun not a verb.
Cultivating a Kindness Ritual
Let’s be clear, there are times when I am NOT kind, particularly when I perceive bully behavior. I’m working to cultivate an attitude of detachment. You can read about that here. It’s my goal to aim higher, to maintain acceptance over judgement, to create a kindness ritual.
I am certain we can call into our lives all of the beauty we desire, because attitudes are contagious and the more we expect goodness, the more we find it. Beauty does not come by being defensive or holding our fists in the air and showing others who’s boss. As a morning bird awakens the earth with its song, we can inspire beauty if we choose to sing.