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The kindness paradox

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama XIV

Today I have a question for you: Is it better to be wise or to be kind?

Careful now. This is a tricky one.

On the one hand you could argue that it is never “wrong” to be kind, but is it always wise to be kind.

But that depends upon your point of view.

If you are, like the Dalai Lama, truly wise, you will immediately see that kindness is the only course of action that makes sense in any situation because it is only by first acting with kindness ourselves that we can actually experience a world in which kindness exists.

If however, you are what nursing scientist and author Rosemarie Rizzo Parse refers to as a “human becoming” – someone who freely chooses personal meaning in situations as part of the process of living their unique value priorities – you might well be tempted to strategise whether or not it is to your benefit to be kind in a given situation, or whether another person or situation is worthy of your kindness.

What is interesting here is what these two very different approaches have in common.

Both approaches agree that we each exercise free will in any given situation and more importantly they highlight the fact that we also live the consequences of the decisions we make based on our priorities in life.

This literally means that any time you choose anything other than kindness – no matter the reason or the circumstance – you are valuing or prioritising the opportunity to live in something other than a kind world.

And guess what?

When you choose to live in an unkind world the people you encounter also tend to behave unkindly towards you and you wind up caught in a loop that repeats itself over and over again.

So how do you stop?

You just decide to act with kindness in every situation no matter what happens.

No excuses – no exceptions. It really is that simple.

What is the catch?

To do this successfully you have to find a way to accept that by making this choice you will cease to be in the process of “becoming human”. In this respect, at least, you will be truly human.

And that is the moment that everything gets so much easier because the moment that you start to prioritise living and acting with kindness the entire world and everyone in it will look different to you.

Yes, you will still encounter unkind people, but you won’t view them as annoying or threatening. You will simply see them for what they are – travellers suffering the consequences of the route they have chosen on their journey towards becoming human – and accept that this is a phase of their development that they must pass through as you yourself have done.

Robin Trimingham is the chief operating officer of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a virtual presenter, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://bit.ly/3nSMlvc or robin@olderhood.com

Nursing scientist and author Rosemarie Rizzo Parse (right) with Dee Jones at the Institute of Humanbecoming in 2016

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Published August 31, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated August 30, 2021 at 7:41 am)

The kindness paradox

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