Thursday, June 11, 2015

Difficult Teenager? : The Advice is Kindness on Both Sides

            Many rewards are in store for us when we act from genuine kindness, without a hidden agenda and expecting nothing in return. All it takes is for us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

Many times we are so focused on ourselves, on how miserable we are and how we don’t have the things we need to make us happy, that we fail to realize that it is in forgetting ourselves that we find true joy. If we stop concentrating on ourselves, if we stop being selfish, doors of infinite possibilities will open. Famous motivator Anthony Robbins said, “The fastest way to create a better life is to focus on becoming a better you” and “The actions we take determine us as much as we determine our actions.” If he is right, then in order to become better people, we need to take actions that will benefit other people.

             Many people are living through distressing times and feel they don’t have the strength to go on. We complain that the world has become a very hostile place, with wars and conflicts spreading over all the continents. We want peace and love to reign, but we feel powerless before the magnitude and onslaught of evil events. Are we just going to sit down and complain?

I read somewhere that the most selfish state to be in is deep sadness, because when we are depressed, we are only focusing on ourselves. We feel so sorry for ourselves that we dwell on everything that is wrong in our lives and we miss out on what is good. Mother Teresa used to say that when we are too busy feeling sorry for ourselves, we run the risk of becoming ungrateful. We forget about all the good things in our lives and forget how much help and love other people need.

I deeply believe that through our everyday actions we can start changing our family, our city, our country and the world. By practicing kindness, we can make a difference not only in our own lives but also in the lives of everyone who comes into contact with us. We can improve the world by spreading love, one person at a time. As we begin to be kinder, a domino effect starts taking place that travels through borders, bringing more gentleness, more smiles and more love to the world

            There is a wise saying that says: “Give light, and darkness will disappear.” So  let’s forget ourselves for a minute. By being ready to help others, we can learn to feel happy and blessed rather than depressed. Let’s not focus so much on the grand plans of life; instead, let’s focus on the tiny frequent moments of love and happiness we can share with each other. Let’s allow the invisible force of God’s love to direct us and contagiously move from individual to individual. Let’s start a domino effect by shining our light on others, so that darkness may give in to light! By spreading kindness, we will be contributing to a more beautiful life for all, including ourselves. When we give to others, we give ourselves a great gift, because, as another wise saying says,” Little kindnesses will broaden your heart, and slowly you will forget yourself!”

            The moment we put ourselves into someone else’s shoes, we see things from a different perspective and from a less selfish point of view. When we manage to do this, we will realize how much other people may be hurting in a particular moment, and it will be easier for us to help them. Every time we overcome our egos and think about others, we grow inside. And, although we must do things in an uninterested manner, doing things out of compassion and not seeking anything in return, most of the time when we put others first, there is a reward in store for us.

            God has designed everything in such a way that as we go through various experiences, we learn valuable lessons and discover how much improvement we need in a particular area. He also rewards us, showering us with blessings when we unselfishly engage in an act of compassion or when we successfully learn a lesson that we were meant to learn. It is beautiful to be alive and to have the chance to grow through situations that are compassionately designed to teach us loving lessons. We have the free will to do as we please, but when we choose to do good, we will surely reap the rewards. In every situation, we must look for what lessons can be learned. We do not want to waste our precious time on this beautiful earth our Creator has so lovingly made for us.

So let’s open our eyes and not waste a minute. Every time we are sure we have mastered an area such as love, compassion, kindness or forgiveness, we need to pause and reflect; surely God will show us there is still much room for improvement. It is in our everyday experiences that we are able to realize, no matter how good we thought we were in a particular area of our lives, there is much we can still improve. We must not get discouraged or lose heart. And we should not be too tough on ourselves, but always remember that God is patient with us and so we should be patient too. There will always be another chance to put into practice what we have learned and to improve whatever area is still a challenge for us.

The more effort we make to spread kindness, the more contagious it will become. Let’s sow the seed of kindness everywhere we go because, as the book of Ecclesiastes says, “In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not let your hand be idle; for you do not know which of the two will be successful, or whether both alike will turn out well.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6) We must be kind to all we come in contact with: friends and strangers, the rich and the poor, the happy and the sad, the powerful and the humble. Kindness is something we must practice even towards animals and plants, because all living things deserve it and all living things will benefit from it and, most importantly, because we ourselves will become better because of it. Where, when and to whom should we be kind? There is an easy answer. Seneca said: “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness!”

            Mother Teresa used to say that kindness enriches our lives; with kindness, unnoticed things become clear, difficult things become easy, and dull things become cheerful. The best way to start a new day is by doing  something good and by being grateful that we had the chance to do it. The kinder and the more thoughtful a person is, the more kindness he or she can find in other people. Put it to the test!

Offer kindness to anyone who might be around you by giving your attention, your time, your company, your advice, your gratefulness, your love. Mother Teresa advised us to not be satisfied with just giving money: “Money is not enough, money can be got, but people need our hearts to love them.” What is an act of kindness? An act of kindness says: “I want you to be happy.”

            To sum up: God told us the greatest commandment is to love Him, and the second one is just as important, and that is to love our neighbor. One of the best ways we can love is by being kind. We must not let anything stop us. How often have we held ourselves back from trying something new because we were afraid? Afraid of what people will think of us. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of looking stupid. Afraid of being judged or criticized. Afraid of disappointment. Let’s not be so self-conscious, because when we are, we waste many precious opportunities. We must make a commitment not to limit ourselves. When we feel fear about doing something good, we should determine to do it anyway! When we overcome the fear of reaching out to someone, people will feel our love and be healed. Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Wisdom to contemplate:

“Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.”
 (Philippians 4:5)

“Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)