republished with permission by Jacque Saltsman
I'm done being NICE...
but I will never stop being KIND.
For a long time I didn't know the difference between these two words. Now, one no longer has a place in my life and the other is a standard by which I live.
A few weeks ago, I was honored and humbled to partake in a few of the activities in Louisville that celebrated the life of The Champ, the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time), the one and only, Muhammad Ali. I was so moved, awe-struck and inspired, not by his incredible physical and athletic achievements (which were extraordinary), but more by his integrity, courage, spirit, faith, humility, his sense of humor and his KINDNESS.
A recurring theme so many spoke of in remembrance of Ali was The Golden Rule and how he, more than anyone they ever knew, lived it so beautifully. He treated everyone, no matter what, with the respect, honesty and KINDNESS with which he wished to be treated. He was an incredible human... not perfect, but The Greatest.
When I think about the Golden Rule in my life, I can remember a time when I would have rather had people be nice to me, than kind. I wasn't ready for the honesty of kindness. I didn't yet have the courage for it. Nice was the best I could do. I didn't yet comprehend that not being pleasing didn't make me a bad person.
Nice. Kind. What's the difference?
Nice is pleasing and smooth. Nice is what we do and say when we don't want to rock the boat. Nice is keeping everything status quo and not ruffling any feathers. Nice is saying things that people want to hear. Nice is pleasantries. Nice is automatic and habitual. Nice comes from our heads and is calculated. Nice is how we describe something when we can't or don't want to think of any distinguishing characteristics. Nice is holding our tongues out of fear. Nice does not take a stand and nice isn't always honest.
Kindness, on the other hand, comes from the heart. Kindness is mindful and takes a little more time. Kindness goes deeper than pleasantries. Kindness has integrity. Kindness puts honesty before approval even if that means saying things people don't want to hear or doing things that challenge the norm. Kindness puts the connected, collective good above the immediate individual's needs. Kindness has that special quality of saying and doing unpopular things from a place of love versus anger or harshness. Kindness is NOT saying something that doesn't need to be said out of compassion, not fear.
Some people in my life have confused my sensitively to aggression (words, actions, energy) with a need for all communication to be sugar-coated, subtle or only partially true. Nothing could be farther from the truth. My goal is to interact with all people honestly, clearly, directly AND always coming from the heart; from a place of love.
Why is it that when we have to do something unpopular or say something someone doesn't want to hear, we armor up, become defensive, and throw the message out as quickly and often carelessly as possible??? Because displeasing people, hurting others' feelings or going against the grain is scary. It makes us vulnerable which isn't comfortable. But the kindest thing we can do is to own and speak our truth. That's our responsibility in any relationship - to stand up and speak our truth. Other people's actions and reactions are NOT our responsibility. That doesn't mean we have a blatant disregard for how another feels, but we don't have to let those feelings change us. We can create safe, loving and KIND containers to be able to hold everyone's truth and feelings even if there is disagreement.
His Holiness (and His Rad-ness), the XIVth Dalai Lama said,
"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."
Being kind is doing everything mindfully and with love. THAT is the kind of world in which I want to live. Let's be the change, be the kindness and be the love that we all want in our lives. Peace and RIP Champ!