Sunday, February 3, 2008

Kindness Chronicles III

Driving home from my youngest son’s basketball game yesterday, we saw a bumper sticker that said “Individual thoughts lead to mass consciousness. Be peace.”

This morning, in the Opinion section of the Oregonian there was a piece written by Chauncey Canfield in which he pondered the question posed by so many mothers who have tried to reason their children out of certain undesirable behaviors by asking, “what if everybody…?”

These two encounters had me looking at group behavior from opposite ends of the spectrum and each time, I reached the same conclusion -- group behavior is individual behavior that had been multiplied, making a HUGE difference.

Which leads me to ask, “What if everybody decided to be kind?” This is question posed by Claudia (at On a Limb) who inspired Everyday Kindness.

Imagine that world for a moment.
That is the one that I want for my children.

And so, I continue my quest to be kind. Every day. Some days it is easier than others.

At the beginning of the week, I was in a good place. I was able to let go of the anger and resentment I feel towards Patrick and actually cleared my mind enough to come up with a list of all the things about my relationship with Patrick for which I am thankful. I’ve read that list every day and have sent kind and loving thoughts his way.
Today, I ran out of kind and loving thoughts for him. Anger and resentment were happy to see me return and they wrapped me in their warm embrace. So warm, in fact, that I actually had steam coming out of my ears! I made an emergency call to my friend, Wanda, and her soothing words and much cooler head talked me back down to a more rational place.

I was able to go all week without any complaining. Actually, it was eight days! Today…well, today happened, and so tomorrow, I will start on day one. Again.

I thanked the referee at my daughter’s basketball game for her efforts in calling the game. Not only did she call the fouls, but she also made sure that the girls behaved in a sportsmanlike manner. It was nice to see an official who cared as much about the girls’ character as she did about the rules.

I caught my children doing nice things at least a dozen times this week. I made sure to let them know that I had noticed. It felt good to notice something besides the open bag of potato chips left in the TV room, the unmade beds, and the clothes that didn’t make it up from the laundry room.

As I launch into my fourth week of everyday kindness, I will also be launching myself into the world of the forty-hour work week. I wonder if the interaction with a wider variety of people will make being kind easier or more difficult.

Time will tell.


heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think that eight days without tangible anger toward your ex-husband is probably a record and worthy of at least assistant sainthood.

If we were naturally kind all the time, it wouldn't be necessary to put conscious effort into it. We are on a long and bumpy path with many obstacles, and sometimes it is most necessary to be kind to ourselves.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Definitely more opportunities to "practice." I'm so sick of practicing!

Wanda said...

I hope your new job brings lots of easiness around being kind--the type that just rolls off your tongue...and not the type that you have to work hard to remember to do.

And...I have enough information about Patrick's behavior to agree with heartinsanfrancisco. Assistant? No. You're the real deal.

citizen of the world said...

Here via Heart's blog. I realy like this post. I have had a tendency to try to practice kindness when it occurs to me, but it's a better idea to comit to it long-term, and re-commit each day if necessary. And I agree with Heart, that 8 days is remarkable. Okay, so I am starting TODAY.

meggie said...

I try daily to think & be kind. I really think a little vent now & then is very healthy too!

I also realise some people are always going to be pains, & so I recongnise this, & just move on.

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

You're right, it is a long, bumpy path and I am still amazed that someone hasn't already cleared the path.

I think it is often hardest for me to be kind to myself. I am getting better at it though.

You said it!! Lord, after all this practice you'd think I'd be better at it.
Of course, each situation is unique, so actually I've really had no practice at all!

I hope so too. Thanks for the sainthood vote. I'll make sure to mention it to St. Peter when we meet.

Thanks so much for visiting.
I wish I could claim the everyday kindness idea as my own. I'm just so glad that the internet gives us access to so many wonderful ideas and the the Universe sees fit to guide me to them.

Thank you for your words of wisdom. I keep trying to find the nice guy that I thought I married and I am always surprised when I can't find him.

Wanda said...

Be sure to mention it to St. Patrick, too.

Amber said...

How very interesting to find this post here. I have been having these same thoughts lately. I am reading "The Tipping Point", which kind of looks at data about how things come about because of trends and, really, a change in mass consciousness...

You write so beautifully.


Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

I'm thinking St. Peter as in The Pearly Gates, not St. Peter as in the really nice guy we know. Or am I totally missing the point here and is St. Patrick the patron saint of future saints?

Thank you.
I've heard about the Tipping Point. There is definite power in the group.

Wanda said...

Yes, I got the St. Peter of the Pearly Gates, as opposed to St. Peter the Really Nice Guy. I was referring to "Saint Patrick-NOT"...the one who has given you opportunity time and again to earn your premature sainthood.

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

I knew you knew! You always know. Wish I did too. Sometimes I can be a bit thick! Thanks for the clarification.

Nancy said...

You are an incredible inspiration!

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

Thank you. And, thank you for the inspiration you give to me.