Consistency. This is an attribute that has eluded me the first nearly four decades of my life. My husband on the other hand, wears it like a fine Italian suit. He is consistently kind, consistently generous and consistently present, and he looks good doing it. But to be perfectly honest, sometimes his consistency drives me crazy. I want a little passion, some fire, something that mimics my own inconsistencies.
The issue for me becomes that I start to dwell on what I am not getting from him versus what I am, and when that happens, I have a tendency to be unkind. I am edgier, not as thoughtful, I fail to appreciate his small gestures of love, and I am altogether not as lovely to live with. My efforts of kindness get diluted by our proximity. I sacrifice kindness on the altar of selfishness, and everyone gets burned because of it.
This self-realization is the product of being on the receiving end of some negative feedback recently (read that as social media) which got me wondering. Wondering about kindness and if criticism and judgement are the curses of our generation? My friend Jason encouraged me to turn these questions inward, and to be honest, I am not proud of what I found. I am guilty of the very same things that hurt me the most. I am impatient, and often assume the worst, but the one that hurts the worst is the realization that sometimes I am kinder to people I don’t know than I am to the ones who I love the most in the entire world. It got me wondering if perhaps the solution to more kindness in the world is more kindness toward my inner circle.
A conversation with my friend Shaunti Feldhahn woke me up to this truth a few months ago. She was sharing about her research on resiliency, and what she found is that our individual sense of well-being is not determined by how kind others are to us, it is directly dependent on how kind we are to others.
Without a doubt the answer is more kindness. It is a scientific fact, Shaunti says so. Kindness just might heal the world. It also might make our own hearts and homes just a bit more habitable.
So in an attempt to change my small corner of the world, this is where I am going to be focusing my kindness:
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of Hello, Dearest Magazine.