From the Kindness Blog: “Why I Won’t be Taking Shots on My 21st Birthday,” by Hanna Lottritz

I was so impressed with Hanna Lottritz’s post on the Kindness blog, I had to share it here.

“Today is my 21st birthday, a day I have been looking forward to for quite some time now.

Due to an event that happened about six months ago I will not be taking birthday shots and getting wasted tonight. Instead I plan on having dinner and maybe a glass of wine with my closest friends and family.

I am writing this because I didn’t realize the importance of drinking responsibly until I was waking up from a coma, and I don’t want anyone to go through what my family and I went through. I ask that you share this with your friends, family or anyone who may benefit from reading this. If I can help just one person by sharing my experience, then I will be absolutely ecstatic.

July 27, 2015: The first thing I remember is my mom holding my hand, telling me I was going to be okay. I felt like I was dreaming. Everything seemed foggy. I drifted in and out of consciousness for the next few hours. I was coming out of a 24 hour coma.

On the morning of July 25, 2015, I thought I was going to have a fun day with friends at the Night in the Country music festival in Yerington, Nevada. I woke up, had breakfast and started what would end up being the worst 48 hours of my life. The first part of the day was a lot of fun. We met new people, played human foosball and had a really good time. After dinner we went to the Joe Nichols and Jake Owen concert. At the concert I had two beers. Many of the people I was with had been drinking throughout the day and were already feeling good.

I hadn’t started drinking until a little after dinner and I felt a little behind. My problems started after the concert. I was beginning to feel a little bit of a buzz and drifted off from the people I went to the concert with.

I ended up at a campsite where I found some of my other friends. I am a competitive person by nature and this group was mostly guys who (for some reason) I promised I could outdrink. Around 11:30pm, one of my guy friends and I were seeing who could take the longest chug from a bottle of “Black Velvet Whiskey.”

July 26, 2015: Everything that happened from midnight on is information I gathered from friends because I have zero memory of anything after that. Apparently after I chugged from the bottle, I chugged a solo cup full of “Black Velvet Whiskey.” Immediately after this I told my friends I felt fine, and about five minutes later I collapsed. I wasn’t breathing. My friends picked me up and started carrying me to the medical tent. From there I was intubated and taken to Renown hospital in Reno, Nevada via care flight. Meanwhile, the police showed up at my house to tell my parents to meet me at the hospital.

I was in critical condition, suffering from acute respiratory failure and acute alcohol intoxication. My blood alcohol concentration was .41 when I arrived at the hospital, five times over the legal limit.

The doctors thought I was brain dead because I was completely unresponsive. My pupils were sluggishly reactive, I had no corneal reflex and I wasn’t responding to verbal or painful stimuli. I finally woke up about 24 hours after I arrived at the hospital. I had a tube down my throat and my hands were restrained so I couldn’t pull it out. I was unable to talk with the tube down my throat, making it hard to tell my parents and the nurses that it was extremely uncomfortable. I had to pass a respiratory test to prove I could breathe on my own before they removed it. I failed the first respiratory test I took, and I had to wait several hours to take another test.

When I passed the second test and the tube was taken out, the doctors and nurses told me how lucky I was to be alive. They told me that they didn’t think I would make it through the night. They asked me if I was trying to kill myself by drinking so much. This question hit me the hardest.

From my hospital bed in the Intensive Care Unit, my eyes were opened to the seriousness of being irresponsible with alcohol. The next day when I was discharged from the hospital, I realized that the way I looked at alcohol would be changed forever.

I’ve heard a lot of rumors about what happened to me. I heard a rumor that I overdosed on drugs (blood tests found ZERO drugs in my system). Someone even told a friend of mine that I died. I received texts from people asking me what happened without asking if I was okay.

This event taught me a lot about who is there because they actually care, and who is there because they are curious about what happened.

Despite the handful of people who didn’t really care, there were so many people who genuinely cared about my health and safety. I appreciate every one of these people and can’t thank them enough.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks on one occasion for men, and four or more drinks on one occasion for women. Heavy drinking is defined as 15 or more drinks per week for men, and eight or more drinks per week for women.

The CDC also says;

‘Very high levels of alcohol in the body can shutdown critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature, resulting in death.’

About six people die from alcohol poisoning each day in the US. I’m not asking that everyone avoid alcohol altogether because that is unreasonable, but please try to avoid binge drinking and heavy drinking because the consequences are not worth it.

This situation could have been so much worse. Fortunately for me, I had good people around when all of this took place. I could have easily been taken advantage of when I passed out. I could’ve been left alone to “sleep it off.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “Let them sleep it off, they’ll be fine in the morning,” but I’m alive today because my friends got me help.

Don’t take a chance if you see a friend passed out from drinking too much. Get them help as soon as possible.

I’m very lucky to have made a full recovery, but I know there are others who won’t be as lucky. So please drink responsibly and make sure your friends do too. Watch out for friends, family, even strangers, and take care of them when you suspect they might be suffering from alcohol poisoning. Know the symptoms and be safe.”

 

How to Show Kindness to Yourself

I read this in the Kindness Blog by *Vidyamala Burch. The subject of being kind to oneself intrigued me, and I wanted to share part of the post with you. She was teaching a mindfulness class, and a young woman asked her a difficult question.

The question and Vidyamala’s thoughts follow:

“How do I keep turning up with compassion and kindness, when people just throw it back in my face, or don’t appreciate it?

We can all relate to this dilemma and the feelings of anger and despair when our efforts seem so misunderstood! This young woman is trying to make her way through life by giving the best that she can, and what is she getting back in return? Only her own tormenting feelings of bitterness, resentment and confusion.

Buddhism, which the secular mindfulness field has mostly drawn from, works from a different principle. Here we are taught that kindness always needs to start at home.

You can only really be there for others if you have a strong foundation of self-love, self-kindness and confidence to tap into.

It’s obvious when you think about it — if we can’t be kind to ourselves then we can’t be genuinely kind to others — it just isn’t sustainable and will lead to feelings of hurt, bitterness, anger or plain exhaustion.

Kindness to oneself doesn’t mean we become selfish and self-absorbed though. Being aware of and kind to others is at the very heart of Buddhism and mindfulness. Loving kindness to oneself, as it’s known in Buddhism, is more about being realistic and knowing your limits, how much you can give and your boundaries. If you have the rising feeling that you are giving and giving and resentment is building up, take this as a sign that you need to spend time being kind and loving to yourself.

So what is loving kindness to oneself?

I think of it as cultivating the same attitude to yourself as you have towards someone you love – you naturally turn to that loved one with kindness and an open heart. Or perhaps, a cherished pet? Recall the feelings of loving kindness as you spend time with it and stroke it – now turn those feelings back onto yourself. Breathe in and drench each breath with loving kindness for you.

If you do practice these steps of goodwill towards yourself, then magically, in the true spirit of Christmas and giving, you will be able to care and love others much more deeply, in a much more sustainable way.”

*Vidyamala is one of the world’s leading experts on mindfulness for health, and founder and Director of Breathworks, a leading UK-based not-for-profit organisation, specialising in Mindfulness-Based Pain and Illness Management. Breathworks have recently run pilot programmes around the country, working with numerous charities, the National Probation Service, Department of Health and NHS. Breathworks also provides face-to-face and online courses for individuals living with pain, illness and stress.

 

Saved by the Invisibles

I recently read this in the Kindness Blog, written beautifully by Jonathan Carroll, and had to share it here. It’s a wonderful reminder of all the joy, love, and beauty all around us each day if only we look.

*************************************

“How many times in a day, week, or month are we saved by the invisibles?

Those small or insignificant sights, sounds, scenes, smells… we often ignore or overlook in our every day, but which at certain times appear at such ideal or crucial moments in our existence that it’s hard to believe right then there’s not some cosmic chess player putting the piece right in front of us for a specific purpose — sometimes benevolent, sometimes not.

This morning in a gray-as-wet-gravel mood, I’m standing on a street corner waiting for the traffic light to change. It doesn’t. For some nefarious reason, I’ve come face-to-face with a stop light that hates me and refuses to let me cross. I’m tempted to go but it would be just my luck today to do it and suddenly five cops would leap out of nowhere, notebooks in hand. How to make gravel gray grimmer. So I stand and wait… and wait…

Until looking across the street off to one side, I see this: a very old man dressed all in white at a sidewalk café table reading a newspaper. Sitting close by him is an equally ancient golden retriever, more white now than gold, a face as serene as the Buddha’s. Combined, these two old earthly angels must be a hundred. I start to grin at the beauty and peacefulness of the pair. But it gets better.

Very slowly the dog puts a paw on the man’s knee and leaves it there. Eventually without raising his eyes from the paper, the man breaks off a giant piece of the cake he is eating and offers it to his compañero, who takes it with perfect slow dignity. The paw immediately comes off the leg and the two elderly gentlemen go back to before.

A few moments later my enemy, the traffic light, changes but I remain there, smiling and grateful.

Once again saved by the invisibles…”

 

From the Kindness Blog: 36 Lessons Learned in 36 Years of Marriage

I recently read this in the Kindness Blog by Winifred M. Reilly, called “36 Lessons Learned in 36 Years of Marriage.” I fell in love with it, and had to re-post it here. I hope it inspires you as much as it did me.

“To honor our many years together, here are 36 lessons I’ve found most valuable:

  1. If you think marriage would have been much easier with somebody else, you’re probably wrong.
  2. Most marital problems are fixable. Really. Even the tough ones.
  3. The D word (divorce) is a dangerous weapon. I suggest the F word instead: frustrated. Nobody’s heart will be broken if you say, “I’m so FRUSTRATED I could scream!”
  4. The term wedded bliss should be stricken from every couple’s vocabulary. Marriage is wonderful in many ways, but expecting bliss makes the inevitable rough times seem like a problem when they’re simply part of the deal.
  5. That bit about how your partner won’t change: Wrong. My husband and I met in our early 20s. If we’d both stayed just as we were, we’d still be two naïve kids, stubbornly insisting we have to have things our way, thinking marriage shouldn’t be as challenging as it is.
  6. Marriage doesn’t get good or stay good all on its own.
  7. Every one of us is, in our own way, difficult to live with. Beginning to work on even one of your own problem behaviors will make a big difference in the quality of your marriage. Added bonus: your spouse will greatly appreciate it!
  8. People who are unhappily married sometimes think marriage is the problem — that marriage is unnatural or outdated or impossible to do well. There’s not a third entity called marriage. Everything that goes on between you is your creation. Each of you playing your part. Why not create something worthwhile?
  9. Marriage is a “learn on the job” proposition. None of us comes into it with all the skills we need for success. When the going gets rough it’s most often a sign that we need some new skills — not a sign that we need a new spouse.
  10. Struggle in marriage is not only inevitable, it’s necessary. None of us can grow a strong and healthy relationship without having to face and resolve difficult issues.
  11. Even the best marriage can’t make up for the difficulties we faced growing up. We all come with childhood injuries. Thinking your spouse can make you feel safe and secure when you’re wobbly inside is too much to ask. The sooner (and more effectively) you deal with your “stuff,” the healthier and more satisfying your marriage will be.
  12. Love grows as much from the challenges we face and surmount together as from the delights that we share.
  13. Marriage is a long negotiation about how two people are going to run things. Money. Intimacy. Parenting. Chores. You can battle, or you can collaborate. Collaboration is a lot more rewarding.
  14. Even the most stubborn among us can learn how to yield. Trust me on this one.
  15. Most of your spouse’s upsets and frustrations aren’t about you — but some are. The sooner you figure out which is which, the better off you’ll be.
  16. During hard times, commitment may be your saving grace. The fact that, way back when, you said “’till death do us part” may be the only reason you keep two feet in long enough to fix what’s not going well. And that’s reason enough.
  17. Marriage can make you a better person or a worse person. It’s your choice.
  18. Complaints and criticisms aren’t the same thing as requests for change.
  19. Discouragement is one of the greatest threats to marriage. I’ve seen struggling couples give up on marriages that could quite likely be saved had they been given the proper guidance and encouragement to hang in there and fix things.
  20. Thinking you have a 50-50 chance of ending up divorced makes it seem like a coin toss. It’s not. There are some behaviors that nearly guarantee failure. We all know what they are. It’s a good idea to not do them.
  21. Being nice helps.
  22. Saying thank-you does, too.
  23. The happier I am about my own life, the less irritated I am about my husband’s irritating behaviors.
  24. A good marriage will have its share of conflict, frustration, boredom, unresolvable arguments, slammed doors and nights where one person sleeps on the couch. The key is to have enough good things to balance them out.
  25. It’s not always easy to keep your heart open.
  26. Love matters. While love doesn’t heal all, even (especially) during hard times, love is a touchstone, a reminder of why you got together in the first place.
  27. Marriage is not an antidote for loneliness. While marriage provides companionship, closeness and connection are not a constant. Sometimes we’re in sync. Sometimes we’re not. It’s important to be able to soothe and comfort yourself when need be.
  28. It’s easy to get into a rut when you’re with the same person, year after year. Sex. Vacations. Dinner. How you spend Saturday night. Change things. Add some spice.
  29. Most good marriages have one person who plays the role of the relationship “guardian”: The person who brings up difficult subjects. The person who stays hopeful in hard times. The person who acts as a steadying influence when one or both of you are getting worked-up. In an ideal world, that role would be shared. In the real world it only takes one.
  30. One of the best things to do in the midst of a fight is to stop fighting. Take a break. Cool down. Come back to it later. Hotheads are terrible problem solvers.
  31. Some conflicts cannot be resolved by compromise. (We can’t have half a child or buy half a vacation home). When there’s no such thing as “meeting halfway,” the solution becomes a matter of generosity, where one person says “yes” to their second choice and the other acknowledges that as a gift.
  32. Fights are never about content. Where we store the dish soap, whether it’s quicker to take the frontage road or the freeway, whether it’s horribly rude not to answer a text — none of these are worth getting ourselves all in a twist. Our upsets are about the larger meaning we make of that unanswered text, that resistance to influence, that refusal to take seriously the things we request. It’s really helpful to accurately name what’s setting you off.
  33. There’s a big difference between being happily married and living happily ever after. None of us are happy 24/7. Thank goodness we don’t need to be.
  34. When you think to yourself, I really shouldn’t say this, you’re probably right.
  35. Learning how to make up is essential since you’ll never, ever, get to a point where neither one of you screws up.
  36. One of you has to go first. Apologize first. Be vulnerable first. Yield first. Forgive first. Why not let that person be you?”

 

“What Will Matter?”

I just found this on the Kindness Blog, and had to share it. The following was written by Michael Josephson, and is called “What Will Matter.” It’s a good reminder of how to rise above the petty stuff that pulls us down daily; it reminds us of what really matters. I hope it strikes a spark with you as it did with me.

******************************************************************************************************

“Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.

Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.

The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.

It won’t matter whether you where beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin colour will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built;
Not what you got, but how you gave.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.

What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter are not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.

Choose to live a life that matters.”

Kindness Quotes

As you know, I am a follower of the Kindness Blog. Not only does it inform, but it lifts, inspires and strengthens both soul and mind. The following quotes are absolutely true, and absolutely wonderful.

Please enjoy them and let them inspire you as they have inspired me.

Kindness Quotes

“Look into your own heart, discover what it is that gives you pain and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.” ~ Karen Armstrong

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce.

Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce.

Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”  ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“I truly believe the seeds of greatness can be found in every human heart…we just have to support and help each other to grow into the very best we can be, and teach love…” ~ Harula of http://wordsthatserve.wordpress.com/

“Kindness. Easy to do. Easy not to do. Choose the latter, no one will notice. Choose the former and lives may change!” ~ Julian Bowers Brown ‏

“I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don’t respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.” ~ Brendan Behan

“It’s much easier to be cruel than one might think.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

“Love and kindness is the only way to be really human.” ~ Ralph—> http://bluefishway.com/ 

“You should give to others in every way you see… expect absolutely nothing from anyone. It should be your goal to love every human you encounter. All human suffering that you’re aware of and continues without your effort to stop it becomes your crime.” ~ Louis CK.

“…treat people with understanding when you can, and fake it when you can’t until you do understand.” ~ Kim Harrison

“progress isn’t whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much its whether we provide enough for those who have to little” ~ F.Roosevelt

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” ~ D.Bonhoeffer

“People shouldn’t have to earn kindness. They should have to earn cruelty.” ~ Maggie Stiefvater

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.

But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. ”I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.” “The Wise Woman’s Stone” ~ Author Unknown

“All the big words –virtue, justice, truth …– are dwarfed by the greatness of kindness” ~ Stephen Fry

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ~ Fred Rogers

“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” ~ Roger Ebert

“Being kind doesn’t mean being gullible.” ~ Aniket Jawale

“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight.  Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward.  Your life will never be the same again.”  ~ Og Mandino

As the bus slowed down at the crowded bus stop, the Pakistani bus conductor leaned from the platform and called out, “Six only!”  The bus stopped.  He counted on six passengers, rang the bell, and then, as the bus moved off, called to those left behind:  “So sorry, plenty of room in my heart – but the bus is full.”  He left behind a row of smiling faces.  It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.  ~ The Friendship Book of Francis Gay, 1977

“Kind hearts are the gardens,

Kind thoughts are the roots,

Kind words are the blossoms,

Kind deeds are the fruits”

~ 19th century rhyme used in primary schools

“A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses”.  ~ Chinese Proverb

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”  ~ Nelson Henderson

A good character is the best tombstone.  Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered.  Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.  ~ Charles H. Spurgeon

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.  It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.  ~ Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because you are.  ~ Author Unknown

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  ~ Dalai Lama

During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a quiz.  I breezed through the questions until I read the last one:  “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”  Surely this was a joke.  I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.  Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade.  “Absolutely,” the professor said.  “In your careers, you will meet many people.  All are significant.  They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.”  I’ve never forgotten that lesson.  I also learned her name was Dorothy.  ~ Joann C. Jones

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.  ~ George Washington Carver

Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out.  ~ Frank A. Clark

One can pay back the loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kind.  ~ Malayan Proverb

Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.  ~ Marian Wright Edelman

Live In Between Right and Wrong – from the Kindness Blog

I read this the other day in the Kindness Blog, and it hit home with me. It’s all about what ultimately matters and what doesn’t. I hope you get as much out of it as I did. Read on….

Live In-Between Right and Wrong – By Kathryn Eriksen

“I was waiting in line at the Post Office yesterday, when I heard loud voices on the other side of the glass doors. Someone was angry and expressing it in a loud voice that demanded attention.

“Everyone standing in line raised their eyebrows or shook their heads. Suddenly, the glass doors flew opened and a young man stormed inside and demanded to see the supervisor.

“Sally (OK, so I know her name…I am in there a lot) said in her most professional voice,

“I’m sorry sir. But you were already speaking to the supervisor.”

“Silence for half a heartbeat.

“Instead of beating a hasty retreat, Angry Man decided to notch it up one step further.

“Then I want to see his supervisor!”

“To her credit, Sally retained her poise. Everyone else in line was slightly appalled by Angry Man, but of course, no one said anything. As Sally left her customer to get the supervisor’s supervisor, Angry Man glanced at the rest of us. He didn’t received the sympathy he thought he deserved so he stormed out of the room, slamming the glass doors.

“I happened to get Sally when it was my turn. I complimented her on keeping her composure in the face of such anger, and she shrugged her shoulders.

“All in a day’s work,” she said.

“I found myself in the same Post Office the next day, mailing another package. This time, it was a young woman at Sally’s station who grew visibly upset as Sally patiently explained the procedure for registered letters. Angry Woman shouted something in another language, slammed the glass doors (they apparently take a lot of abuse), then abruptly turned around and came back inside, demanding to see the supervisor.

“Another public display of rage.

“I couldn’t believe it – was this a pattern at this particular Post Office or was something else going on?

“I began asking friends and family if they noticed an increase in these types of incidents – where normal, rational people allow their emotions to overrule their reason.

“The answer was a resounding “YES!”

“While this very informal survey of a very small group of people is not scientific or regimented, I do believe that people have become disconnected to others, but more importantly, to themselves.

“Disconnection breeds contempt and judgment. When you see another person as separate and apart from you, your ego has space to scream, “I have been wronged!” and that, my friends, is where Angry Man and Angry Woman made their mistake.

“They missed an opportunity to choose differently.

“There is a moment…between the choice of “being-right-at-all-costs” and passively accepting the situation.

“A heartbeat in time before the decision is made to rail and rage. A drop in the eternal cosmos where you are presented with a choice of how to respond. Not react.

“Reaction is charged with emotional turmoil. It is fueled by strong feelings that prompt people to say and do things that they regret later, when the emotional tsunami has cleared. Reaction is usually based on a triggered, habitual response. No thinking is required – just re-action.

“Response is thoughtful and purposeful. Instead of allowing the ego to stir up the emotions, response is connected to your values, your mission and yourself. Response is the reflection of who-you-are, rather than the intense “how-dare-they” reaction.

“How do you respond instead of react? My Post Office friend, Sally, has a great attitude. She is harangued every day by people who bring their frustrations with them, along with their letters. She has to deal with different languages, different rules to mail packages to different countries, and difficult people.

“And she does it with easy grace and calm.

“After watching Sally handle these customers, I realized her technique.

“She did not take the customer’s barrage personally and she always responded with kindness.

“Instead of fueling the reaction with her own emotional reaction, she used a kind tone and words to bring the person off the emotional cliff.

“The great news is that it works. Angry Man and Angry Woman both felt like their complaints were heard and they both came in later and apologized to Sally.

“I can’t speak for either of the Angry People, but I do know personally that when I choose to respond instead of react, I stay peaceful. My peace of mind remains intact and I am calm, clear and focused. The situation usually resolves, just like it would if I had chosen “how-dare-you,” but with less upset, turmoil and anger. If it doesn’t resolve to my satisfaction, it was not worth losing my peace of mind by reacting with rage.

“How do I make that choice – to respond instead of react? It’s simple.

“When I feel that rush of emotion and know that I could follow that siren call, I close my eyes and breathe.

“Stopping the visual information helps me find my peace of mind. Breathing slows down the physical adrenaline rush that is taking place in my body. Emotions do not take over my rational side and I am able to choose how I want to respond.

“Or as a friend of my mine loves to say, “Is this worth losing my peace of mind?”

“If you are on the reception side of customer rage, try kindness. And know that the anger is not directed at you personally. If you are the person about to unleash your fury at a perceived mistreatment, close your eyes and take a deep breath.

“Your peace of mind is worth it.”

 

 

Another Gem From the Kindness Blog

As you know, I’m a big fan and supporter of the Kindness Blog. In fact, these days I go there often to get a breath of fresh air and fresh goodness. This one, “This is the summer of your life” by Frances Trussell, is a sweet reminder of days gone by.

I hope you like this one as much as I did. Read on…

“On childhood summer evenings I’d sit by the breeze of my open bedroom window listening to the symphony of the season.

“The laughter of those children still allowed to play out, the kicking of balls in the park and shouting to friends. Birdsong soared high among the barbecue smoke whilst the clinking of glasses accompanied grown-ups chatter below.

“How bittersweet those balmy nights, a loveliness and still a longing. A longing for a time when the days would be mine, the laughter my own in a no-bedtime, no-rules, me-time-all-the-time kind of way.

“So now, I have arrived. And you have too. Here we are, exactly where we wanted to be back then. This day is ours, this night is ours and it’s us who makes those rules. We made a promise to ourselves that when we got here we would embrace those evenings with all our being, feel the warmth of the sun on our face, that now would be that time.

“And yet, how easy it is to shift those jumper goal posts, lost in the mourning mind of summers gone or the longing mind of summers to come.

“But it is not going to get any better than this, now is the only place we get to experience anything because it is always now.

“There will, of course, inevitably be the perfect-house-bigger-garden summer that lives in our heads. The one where a slightly thinner and more attractive version of ourselves has our hair windswept whilst driving our top-down Aston Martin. The next holiday, the next job, the next relationship, next month or next summer, that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

“The wanderings of the mind can trick us into believing that the next lick of the ice cream will taste better than this one. So remember to savor the flavor of this moment. There is little point saving happiness for best like Grandmas crockery.

“Feel this summer, own it, squeeze the juice out of it. You have arrived at your destination; this is the summer of your life.

“It is always the summer of your life should you choose it to be.”

 

The Forgiveness Checklist

I read this yesterday in the Kindness Blog, and was very moved by it, and wanted to share it with you. It makes me think of all the times I have been less than forgiving, holding grudges as if they were some sort of rare treasure, and for what? To keep that mean little flame burning in my heart where only good things should live? How ridiculous and how wasteful.

I hope that this amazing post will lift you up as it did me.

“The Forgiveness Checklist – By *Khalid Al Ameri

“The little reminders on the path to giving and seeking forgiveness…

“Forgiveness might be the single greatest emotional tool after love, the ability to release the hurt inside and carry on with our lives is incredibly powerful. We think about forgiveness as simply something we do or give to others, when really it is a chance for us to become stronger in our own lives.

“We have all been wronged at some point in our lives and although the pain of being hurt in that very moment is a lot to deal with, it is living with that hurt day in and day out that is the real suffering.

“Forgiveness is never easy, especially when you are on the receiving end of the emotional pain, so here are a few things I do to remind myself of how important it is to give and seek forgiveness regardless of the situation.

“Separate Action From The Individual: Remind yourself that nobody in the world, including you, is perfect, that we all mistakes, misjudge, and miscalculate.

“Now imagine a world where we are defined by our mistakes rather than who we are as human beings, everyone would simply avoid, or even worse hate, each other. By removing the action of making a mistake from the individual, you are able to see them for who they really are, and in the process remind yourself that deep down inside everyone has good inside them, we just slip up every now and then.

“Remember it is who you are, not simply what you do that defines you, and it should define everyone else to.

“Wear Their Shoes: Always ask yourself why the specific person would do, or say, something that would bring hurt or pain to your life, especially if a strong relationship already exits. Perhaps they had a bad day, maybe they are one’s feeling the pain and they want you to connect with them, or maybe they are simply crying out for help. Try and see things from their angle, in a way it helps you from singling yourself out, and putting the weight of the situation on your chest.

“By walking in their shoes, you get a better understanding of just how bumpy the path is they are walking on, and now you can walk by their side knowing what they are going through.

“Keep Your Arms Open: I watched a beautiful talk by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf last night where he discussed the importance of keeping our doors open to people with all their mistakes and flaws. As human beings we always need to keep some space in our arms for the people who have wronged us, because the reality of the matter is when they come back, we are probably all they have left.

“When your heart is always open to people, nothing but love surrounds your entire being, because you rise above the hurt and pain every time, emotionally, nothing is more powerful.

“Show More Love: The first step to forgiving is reminding yourself of your love and care for people. By increasing that love and concern when something comes between you and the person you care about it shows that nothing can come between you both, that no issue, however bad, is more important than the love that binds the two of you together. Never forget your love for each other, and you will never something tearing you apart, because nothing can.

“As humans we are in our natural state when we love, smile, and bring joy to the world and although rainy days make their way into all our lives, it is forgiveness that brings out the sunshine again.

“Your ability to help mend a heart that has broken yours is one of the greatest displays of emotional strength, not only do you heal a relationship that means so much to you, you also heal yourself.

Love Over Pain, Always.”

*Khalid Al Ameri, UAE National, Husband & Father, Columnist. MBA Candidate at Stanford Graduate School of Business (@StanfordBiz).

If there’s a difference to be made, I’m all in.

Follow Khalid at: https://twitter.com/KhalidAlAmeri

Another Gem From the Kindness Blog – George Saunders Speech

Yes, I know I am dipping once more into the Kindness Blog, but darn it–there are so many good posts! This one is a real gem; it’s long, but well worth reading. George Saunders gave this convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class on 2013.

George Saunders is an American writer of short stories, essays, novellas and children’s books. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, McSweeney’s and GQ.

“Down through the ages, a traditional form has evolved for this type of speech, which is: Some old fart, his best years behind him, who, over the course of his life, has made a series of dreadful mistakes (that would be me), gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic young people, with all of their best years ahead of them (that would be you).
And I intend to respect that tradition.
Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?”  And they’ll tell you.  Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked.  Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.
So: What do I regret?  Being poor from time to time?  Not really.  Working terrible jobs, like “knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?”  (And don’t even ASK what that entails.)  No.  I don’t regret that.  Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked?  And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months?  Not so much.  Do I regret the occasional humiliation?  Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl?  No.  I don’t even regret that.
But here’s something I do regret:
In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class.  In the interest of confidentiality, her Convocation Speech name will be “ELLEN.”  ELLEN was small, shy.  She wore these blue cat’s-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore.  When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.
So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased (“Your hair taste good?” – that sort of thing).  I could see this hurt her.  I still remember the way she’d look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear.  After awhile she’d drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth.  At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: “How was your day, sweetie?” and she’d say, “Oh, fine.”  And her mother would say, “Making any friends?” and she’d go, “Sure, lots.”
Sometimes I’d see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.
And then – they moved.  That was it.  No tragedy, no big final hazing.
One day she was there, next day she wasn’t.
End of story.
Now, why do I regret that?  Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it?  Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her.  I never said an unkind word to her.  In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.
But still.  It bothers me.
So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly.
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope:  Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
Those who were kindest to you, I bet.
It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.
Now, the million-dollar question:  What’s our problem?  Why aren’t we kinder?
Here’s what I think:
Each of us is born with a series of built-in confusions that are probably somehow Darwinian.  These are: (1) we’re central to the universe (that is, our personal story is the main and most interesting story, the only story, really); (2) we’re separate from the universe (there’s US and then, out there, all that other junk – dogs and swing-sets, and the State of Nebraska and low-hanging clouds and, you know, other people), and (3) we’re permanent (death is real, o.k., sure – for you, but not for me).
Now, we don’t really believe these things – intellectually we know better – but we believe them viscerally, and live by them, and they cause us to prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, even though what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what’s actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving.
So, the second million-dollar question:  How might we DO this?  How might we become more loving, more open, less selfish, more present, less delusional, etc., etc?
Well, yes, good question.
Unfortunately, I only have three minutes left.
So let me just say this.  There are ways.  You already know that because, in your life, there have been High Kindness periods and Low Kindness periods, and you know what inclined you toward the former and away from the latter.  Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation’s good; a frank talk with a dear friend;  establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition – recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us.
Because kindness, it turns out, is hard – it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include…well, everything.
One thing in our favor:  some of this “becoming kinder” happens naturally, with age.  It might be a simple matter of attrition:  as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish – how illogical, really.  We come to love other people and are thereby counter-instructed in our own centrality.  We get our butts kicked by real life, and people come to our defense, and help us, and we learn that we’re not separate, and don’t want to be.  We see people near and dear to us dropping away, and are gradually convinced that maybe we too will drop away (someday, a long time from now).  Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving.  I think this is true.  The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was “mostly Love, now.”
And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love.  YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE.   If you have kids, that will be a huge moment in your process of self-diminishment.  You really won’t care what happens to YOU, as long as they benefit.  That’s one reason your parents are so proud and happy today.  One of their fondest dreams has come true: you have accomplished something difficult and tangible that has enlarged you as a person and will make your life better, from here on in, forever.
Congratulations, by the way.
When young, we’re anxious – understandably – to find out if we’ve got what it takes.  Can we succeed?  Can we build a viable life for ourselves?  But you – in particular you, of this generation – may have noticed a certain cyclical quality to ambition.  You do well in high-school, in hopes of getting into a good college, so you can do well in the good college, in the hopes of getting a good job, so you can do well in the good job so you can….
And this is actually O.K.  If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously – as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers.  We have to do that, to be our best selves.
Still, accomplishment is unreliable.  “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.
So, quick, end-of-speech advice: Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up.  Speed it along.  Start right now.  There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness.  But there’s also a cure.  So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf – seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.
Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.  Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial.  That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality – your soul, if you will – is as bright and shining as any that has ever been.  Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s.  Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place.  Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been.  I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.
Congratulations, Class of 2013.”