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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Share it Please
In the Preface to The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama wrote:

Kindness is the starting point, the fount from which flow so many other positive qualities, such as honesty, forgiveness, patience, and generosity.
These words made me think about the connection between those positive qualities and kindness.  What would honesty, forgiveness, patience and generosity be without kindness?  Is there even such a thing as unkind patience or unkind generosity, or honesty?

Truth Telling as an Act of Kindness

Telling the truth can be an act of kindness, especially if told with sincerity and a sensitivity.  Not addressing an unpleasant situation can result in hurt feelings as much as addressing the situation can.  There is an element of risk present when, for example, a music teacher decides it is kinder to tell a student who shows no talent to consider other hobbies than to withhold her evaluation.

Sincerity and Sensitivity:  Keys to Kindness
Sincerity and sensitivity are keys to kindness.  Sincerity includes knowing where I’m coming from, in other words being honest about my motives, before I engage in addressing an unpleasant situation.  I sometimes need to spend time searching my heart to discover if I really do have the other person’s best interest in mind.  I may discover subtle mischief at play in the form of a slight desire to put them down, to return a hurt or manipulate an outcome.  I may even discover a slight desire to get even or to get my way.  Sincerity to me means that I own my motive and to take responsibility for the emotional fallout that may result when I address the situation.
Sensitivity means being considerate.  It is a style of engaging that is courteous and caring.  Without sensitivity I might wield the truth like an ax.  I might disguise rudeness by calling it honesty.  I might say things like “I’m just speaking my truth” right before delivering a careless opinion.   Sensitivity to me means being interested in discovering the clearest, kindest way to say what wants to be said with all mischief stripped away.

Things Get Easier
And even when sincerity and sensitivity are practiced there is little guarantee that the information will be received well. Nevertheless, these two qualities help me drop as much pretense as possible when engaging with others and when I am mindful enough to practice them things just get easier.


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