The Kindest Life Possible
Recently I attended an event with Byron Katie. What a phenomenal evening! Katie is the founder of â€śThe Work,â€ť which is a process of questioning your stressful thoughts in order to end suffering.
â€śThis is about living the kindest life possible,â€ť she said shortly after taking the stage. Her eyes sparkled as she looked out over the packed auditorium. â€śLove is a guiltless state of mind. I donâ€™t want me to get away with anything.â€ť
Whoa. She had me at hello.
The kindest life possible. The expression rang in my ears. It overwhelmed me with the scope of its vision: kindness as a constant state of being, not just occasional efforts to â€śbe niceâ€ť or â€śdo good.â€ť Radical kindness. The Dalai Lama has said that his religion is kindness. I suppose if I had to choose a religion, I would say the same thing. Of course I fall short far more than I care to admit, but kindness is the worthiest ideal I have come across in my twenty-eight years.
I used to associate kindness with letting people walk all over you. Sure, it was good and virtuous to be seen as a nice person, but that also meant you would get taken advantage of, right?
Now I see it differently. To me, kindness is the highest form of self-responsibility. It is an active recognition that we are all interconnected. Everything you believe, say, and do has ripple effects on the world around you. Kindness means acknowledging your own truth andâ€”when appropriateâ€”speaking it directly and compassionately. It also means genuinely caring about other peopleâ€™s perspectives, even when you donâ€™t agree. To be kind is to catch yourself before you judge someone whoâ€™s judging you. Itâ€™s giving just because. Itâ€™s being the example, first, without waiting for others to change.
Kindness is love in action.
If kindness is one of your values, weâ€™re in this together. The next time someone lashes out at you, recognize that theyâ€™re hurting before you say or do anything. And the next time you lash out, either in your thoughts or words or actions, be gentle with your own hurt places.
This is how I believe we live the kindest life possible: one moment, one thought, one interaction at a time.