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There is no such thing as an expert on the topic of Life. We all have had our battles, our suffering, and our questions. Despite the uniqueness of our personal obstacles, we have endured them. We have endured them well enough to advise those behind us as to how to do the same. I have done the research on your behalf regarding the multitude of reasons why wisdom exists. My mission is to utilize the voices of the world's greatest thinkers and heroes to compose a guideline of life's wisdom so that you don't have to experience those trials alone.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

A Day of Kindness

As described in former essays, one of the many catalysts for initiating a spirit of responsibility is the very question: "What is my purpose?"  A very common reaction to this question is the consideration to reach out and help others.  Upon reaching this milestone in the journey, many will consider opportunities for volunteerism, stewardship and servitude.   If you address responsibility as being the ability to respond to needs, such concerns as apathy or injustice begin to become evident.  One of the most compelling motivators we experience comes from our relationships with various people.  We value the relationships we have within our communities and will seek to improve their condition when the motivation strikes.  We value love.  This inspires us to silence our egos, humble ourselves and show compassion to those in need. This revelation will prompt many people to act as mentors to their peers, this is often registered as an understanding of what others endure.  The attentiveness to a societal need, as it pertains to the Theory of Responsibility, punctuates this essay. In its most familiar form, friendship embodies all the best elements of this facet of responsibility.  This is the responsibility for kindness.

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”  [Albert Einstein]

Why is it that many people turn to volunteerism to find a sense of purpose?  By improving the lives of others and by creating that connection, you invariably are strengthening this relationship when you give back to your community.  If you value the connections between people, then strengthening one part of this bond strengthens both.  It benefits your own quality of life when you express compassion for the quality of others' lives.  In this moment, there is a delicate balance between the ego and humility.  On one side, the humble mind gives so to foster the happiness of another individual and yet, the ego also gives so to feel that happiness in return.  In many situations, both are true. 

"One of the deep secrets of life is that all that's really worth doing is what we do for others."  [Lewis Carroll]

Many times the following has been insinuated, but rarely accurately described:  An act of kindness is its own form of service.  This means that when you can train yourself to be more attentive to the needs of others or to your own positive outlook, you are fundamentally giving the gift of a kinder You to society.  Symbolically, it is as if to say you become a philanthropist of compassion.  You don't necessarily have to travel to a poor country to build, teach or to clean wounds.  (However, if that is your calling, please go! The world needs teachers and nurses!)  But what the world also needs is more kind people or a greater frequency of kind acts.   This is where you enter; you can take the responsibility upon your shoulders to be that person, the knowledgeable person.  You can be that smiling, helpful hand among those with whom you associate every day.  "Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.  As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands:  One for helping yourself and one for helping others." [Audrey Hepburn]  It is completely acceptable if you choose to remain within your own circles of interaction.  In this sense, you will be performing a service to your peers from now on.  Some days, this might take a little more work than other days.  You might find yourself feeling distracted or in a lousy mood.  Always remember your goal and recall that your only true distraction is the temptation to stop. But do mind your limitations so that you aren't causing yourself anxiety for any number of people you cannot reach. Those moments are exactly why this becomes more than a reminder to encourage kindness, this is a challenge to inspire a change in attitude and to transform those reminders for kindness into a lifestyle. One kind act will inspire another.  Choose kindness.

“Perfect kindness acts without thinking kindness.”  [Laozi]

Once you honor that your decisions can affect your environment, then the moment when you decide to live in benevolence is the moment when you have given yourself purpose.  This is the state of recognizing your appreciation for your surroundings.  This appreciation of your environment could be a literal empathy for nature and animals.  This could mean taking responsibility for the health of your body.  This could illicit an awareness to alleviate the suffering of others.  Finally, this can be a simple impetus to smile with more frequency.  Through kindness, you become responsible for anyone with whom you interact.  The goal of kindness is to be kind.  Be aware of any temptation to cease being kind.  If your kindness is not received, this is not an excuse to cease being kind.  It can mean that you either might not have used the best method or you can pause in patience for the others to accept the existence of kindness.

"When you know better, you do better."  [Maya Angelou] 

There are a few ways in which this attentiveness for kindness can be applied to your life.  First, many religions call for us to be stewards of this Earth.  Responsibility is your own personal charge simply for being here and for being you. Love the Earth, we have caused it many wounds. To care for the health of the planet, is to care for the relationship we have with it.  In that regard, this allows for that connectivity to strengthen. Secondly, your body requires your care.  If you know what is recommended for your health, honor it.  Listen to it, it is quite truthful in its suggestion of needs.  Take care of your body so it can take care of you in return.  Finally, consider servitude.  Consider moments where there is a lack of empathy and decide to oppose that void.  If you know that kindness exists to strengthen that bond between people, then servitude is a refinery for that connection.  This will require for the ego to be muted for an act of service to be tenable.   "Nothing disciplines the inordinate desires of the flesh like service, and nothing transforms the desires of the flesh like serving in hiddenness.  The flesh whines against service, but screams against hidden service.  It strains and pulls for honor and recognition." [Richard Foster]  Once the ego is quashed, the magic of responsibility can occur which transforms both you and your environment.  This will require a permanent awareness to any lack of helping hands and an attentiveness to the various needs within your community. "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."  [Desmond Tutu]  Negligence and apathy exist because there are too many individuals who are unaware of the potential needs that they could  alleviate.  Negligence exists because too many people are too focused on themselves as the preferred recipient of attention.  To acknowledge the value of the interpersonal relationships we can form with other people is key in recognizing the importance of kindness.  Kindness is a social skill.  Like many other motivations in this journey, this is dependent on a single choice. 

"Avoid evil actions;  just as a man who loves life avoids poison."  [Buddha]

We have the aptitude to transform kindness into an innate character trait.  Kindness can be absorbed into one's routine.  Kindness can exist as a vocation for those who have decided to alter their very disposition into one of benevolence.  This begins with a decision.  Choose kindness.  Take a moment to decide to be more kind.  If you feel as though you should, explain for yourself a reason as to why you have chosen kindness.  Be mindful of the needs of others.  Acknowledge others, anticipate their needs and share kindness so to inspire happiness in others.  Note the power of a single smile and its benefits.  Every day, we have the ability to influence a life by how we behave.  Do you plan on making someone's day better or worse?  This can originate with your disposition.  Just as an act of kindness is an act of service, an uplifting mood can shine brilliantly among oceans of despair. "Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into each space."  [Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor]  Once you discover this truth about your responsibility for kindness, the challenge of behaving kindly becomes easier and easier until it is a wonderful habit. 

"No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted."  [Aesop]

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