So you want kindness to characterize your attitudes and actions, but how do you get there?
We live in a fairly emotional age. We’ve coined terms like emotional eating and emotional spending. And the dominant ethic seems to be that we should do something if we feel like it.
The problem I struggle with is that I don’t always feel like being kind. Which can mean this: if you are waiting to feel kind to be kind, you could be waiting awhile. Especially at home, where many of us suspend the social controls we use on our behavior at work or in our social networks.
So here’s a question that has stood my thinking on my head.
What if kindness is a decision as much as it is an emotion?
What if instead of waiting to feel kind, you just decided to be kind?
What if instead of just deciding to feel like loving someone, you just decided to love?
If you think about it, maybe this is more closely related to faith than we think. After all, Jesus’ greatest commandment was to love each other. Which raises this question: how can you command an emotion? No one can really command us to be happy or sad. Try it! Some of us likely have attempted it on our kids. It just doesn’t work.
But you can command a decision. You can command an act of the will.
What if kindness is as much about what you decide to do as you it is what you feel like doing?
Obviously you will want kindness to be something you feel over the long haul, but I’ll bet simply deciding to be kind can navigate all of us through some tough days.
What do you think? Can you decide to be kind? Can you embrace kindness as much as a matter of obedience or will as anything else? What’s your experience with this?