At the Sparkle Women's conference this year there was a particular bit that stood out to me. I cannot directly quote it but the thought was something like this ... "Having pity for someone and having compassion for someone are two different things. Pity, is feeling sorry for or sad for someone in their situation while compassion is putting your feelings into action and DOING something with that pity." I think the word PITY gets a bad rap because it seems kind of like not caring or feeling sorry for someone. But essentially, this IS what we do for others going through circumstances different than our own. Empathy is the feeling of having ACTUALLY been in that situation before meaning you really DO understand the feelings one might be going through. And enter compassion - feeling the pity with lack of empathy and DOING something.
One of the greatest things I learned to understand more this year is that everyone has a story, a circumstance, a problem, a flaw, a point of view, an issue and a bag of crap they carry around. It's not that I don't KNOW that, I do. It's just that this year taught me to APPRECIATE that and take it at face value. There is no one thing greater or less than the other ... they are all equal to those carrying the load. I kind of think of it akin to how God thinks of a sin - none is greater than the other. Yet, we as humans kind of grade sins as much as we grade suffering.
I think the single best thing we can do for one another on this earth, is to extend kindness. We all feel pity, some of us are able to empathize and others of us go so far as to offer compassion and become the hands of God to others by DOING something to help. While I aim to be that type of person, I am not 100% acting out of compassion. But what I'd like to do, is become a person who is KIND.
Kindness is free. Being kind can be really difficult for some because often, it means holding back your opinions. More times than not it means listening and NOT speaking. These things are REALLY hard for us as humans. We ALL have an opinion and we ALL desire to be HEARD. Being kind often means holding back judgment. Ouch. Having an opinion is one thing ... placing a judgment on it is another. And quite simply, nothing is ours to judge. Easier said than done.
As we head into the new year I'd like to focus on being KIND. First and foremost right within the walls of my own house. Raise your hand if your partner gets the brunt of your bad moods at the end of the day because there is literally nothing left in the tank? And my children, OH my children, they deserve my kindness, not to be mistaken for being able to walk all over mom. And I cannot forget that person in the mirror. SHE deserves her own kindness. The silent shaming thoughts in my head need to be exchanged for kind whispers of encouragement. I haven't passed a mirror in my life without hearing those silent unkind voices ... my OWN voices ... how sad is that? Can I not even be KIND to myself? If I cannot be kind to ME, can I go into the world & be kind to others? Let it first begin AT HOME I pray.
Then I will unleash my kindness on the world. Not in a fake way, in a way that is real and true. I am no better than anyone else. My problems are no more or less than anyone else's. I pray to be quick to smile, slow to speak and eager to lend a hand. I pray to listen more, impart my opinion less and support with generous love. And finally, I pray that my kindness leads to compassionate actionable love. This is my new years wish. My word I guess. I thought balance was going to be my word but it seems KIND has found me and taken hold.
How about you? Will you join me in being kind? Let's start with OURSELVES, yes?