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Daily Share – The Kindness Project!

Have you ever noticed how life’s little messages often come again and again . . . and again. In small ways, big ways, and every way in-between, these messages persistently find us until we finally wake-up and say, “OK, I’ve got it, I’m with you, I hear you . . .”

This has happened to me over the past two weeks with one simple phrase: Be Kind. I’ve heard it everywhere and in every form — as answers to my prayers, from friends, through my coursework, even through my nightly television escape — this message tirelessly comes through. Be kind. Simple.

Yet is it? Kindness can feel like a tall order. I often find it easier to be kind to strangers than those closest to me –specifically my family and myself. There are times when I am defensive with my husband, impatient with my children and when these times inevitably happen, I feel ashamed and am relentless in reminding myself how I shouldn’t have been defensive or impatient. I sometimes think that I am being quite kind, yet when I examine my thoughts, I find them to be just as judgmental as ever. Not kind.

So, now that I’ve heard the message, here is what I am doing about it. I guess you could call it The Kindness Project. These steps work when you find yourself in a situation — with yourself or with others — in which the last thing you want to be is kind: when you feel frightened, threatened, justified or attacked.

1. Listen to my body. When I notice that I am starting to get upset about something, whether it is a conversation or a situation, I notice what is happening in my body. My heart rate might be quickening, my chest might tighten. Basically, I notice that I am building my armor, building my defense, preparing for an attack. Once I notice this, I wait . . .

2. And then I breathe. Whatever uncomfortable conversation I find myself in, I always have a few moments to pause and take a few breaths. Trust me, the other person will not mind if you take a beat. By focusing on your breath and taking a moment to recenter, your conversation may just turn from an attack to a blessing.

3. Notice judgment. I find that judgment (which creeps in when I don’t expect it!) can turn any situation instantly negative and is simply toxic. If practicing kindness is your thing, there is no room for judgment, period. When I find myself being judgmental I say a prayer asking for the judgment to be lifted and transfigured into something that brings peace.

4. I let the grievances go. This is a hard one for me. I hold on to my feelings as if it were my protection. If I perceive an attack, I feel a physical shell come around me and then I retreat into it. I withdraw. And I hold on. Yet, this is the silliest thing I do because the instant I let my guard down and let the grievance go, I feel lighter, happier, I feel free. By holding on to hurts, I realized that I wasn’t protecting myself after all. I was the jailor keeping myself in jail!

5. I laugh. My husband taught me this one. A few weeks ago, we were having a silly argument and I was in it for the long haul. I was entrenched. And he was in the trenches with me. Until he laughed. It was a genuine laugh. Not a mocking laugh. A laugh that said, “Isn’t this silly! We love each other! What are we doing?” And the laugh pulled the plug on the whole fight. It was a wonderful laugh, a loving laugh, a kind laugh.

6. I forgive. Unkind moments will pop up. They are bound to and with some frequency. When they do, I forgive them and then set them free. I forgive myself. And hopefully with time there will be fewer unkind moments and life will be a little lighter with a lot of laughter.

I invite you all to embark on The Kindness Project with me. Let’s see where it takes us!

With abundant love and gratitude,

A TDL Reader

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  • Karen divine

    “And
    your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing,
    it must become criticism. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you,
    why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find
    it perhaps bewildered and embarrassed, perhaps also protesting. But don’t give
    in, insist on arguments, and act in this way, attentive and persistent, every
    single time, and the day will come when, instead of being a destroyer, it will
    become one of your best workers–perhaps the most intelligent of all the ones
    that are building your life.”

    ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

  • http://www.wellinla.com/ erin @WELL in L.A.

    Love this as a mantra, a way of life and a way to be an agent of change. Wonderful post and share! 

  • Melissa

    Awesome post! I recognize myself in this.