Kindness: A Two-Way Street

Lovely words for you today from Rick Hanson on the subject of being kind. Rick does the really excellent Foundations of Wellbeing programme which I highly recommend in my Stress factsheet.

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Some years ago I was invited to give a keynote to the largest audience I’d ever faced. I was nervous. Real nervous.

I worried about how people would see me. I thought about how to look impressive and get approval. My mind fixed on me, me, me. I was miserable.

Then I read an interview with the Dalai Lama. He spoke about the happiness in wishing others well. Relief and calm swept through me as I recognized that the kindest thing I could do for myself was stop obsessing about “me” and instead be helpful to others.

So I gave my talk and stayed focused on what could be useful to people. I felt much more relaxed and at peace – and received a standing ovation. I laughed to myself at the ironies: to get approval, stop seeking it; to take care of yourself, take care of others. [Ed. My emphasis, I love that phrase!]

This principle holds in everyday life. If you find compassion for others, you’ll feel better yourself. Besides being benevolent, it’s your best odds strategy for getting treated better by others.

Flip it the other way, and it is also true: kindness to yourself is kindness to others. To take care of them, you’ve got to take care of yourself; otherwise you start running on empty. As you grow inner strengths inside yourself, you’ve got more to offer to others.

Kindness to you is kindness to me; kindness to me is kindness to you. It’s a genuine – and beautiful – two-way street.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

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