When your friend calls you after a first date with a guy, naturally you ask her, “So… how was it?”
“Well…he…I guess…he’s nice…”
Nice. She might as well have said, “The whole time he was talking, all I could think about was driving the tiny olive fork into my ear so I never have to hear Tom speak again about his unbelievably boring life.”
These days, calling someone "nice" is akin to saying, “He's a personality-less shell of a human being, and also, a dreadful potential mate.”
In short, kindness isn’t sexy anymore. Why?
We glorify vulnerability and kindness in our TEDTalks but in the trenches of our everyday lives, it's not always considered cool.
Raw, unalloyed, agenda-less kindness doesn’t help you win any prizes or anyone over. Being deeply kind to others takes a lot of hard work that often isn’t paid back in return by the people to which you're being kind.
Kindness makes you vulnerable to hurt, fear and frustration.
But perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. Perhaps we should think of kindness as the rope that lowers the drawbridge and opens the castle walls around your heart to the barbarian knight who’s starving out there in the cold. Letting someone in is more than just telling them those clouded, private thoughts of your own. Letting someone in means being ruthlessly kind to them, day in and day out.
“Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now.” - Jack KerouacTweet It!
One of the hardest moments to be kind to someone is the moment right after they've unintentionally hurts you. You want to retaliate. You know this because your deepest regrets are times when you’ve let your own pain become an excuse to hurt others.
Instead, in those moments, you can choose to be kind. You can open the door to this person so that all that they are--good, bad, ugly--can flow through you, and later, be accepted by you. And ultimately, can be loved without condition by you.
Kindness is the open door which leaves you broken, less cut off from each other. No one can come meet you at your heart’s dining table if you don’t open that door.
This is how to feel the gift of connecting to another human being.
This is how you know that, deep down, you’re capable of kindness.
And maybe that’s not so unsexy after all.
Kassy Lee is a mindful career coach who specializes in helping twenty-somethings find clarity and confidence about living their life's purpose. She's also a published poet and world traveler currently living in Beijing. To read more of her work, go here.
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