According to author Timber Hawkeye, it's easy to bring more kindness in our daily lives. We should simply see every stranger as a friend we haven't met yet.
We have come to regard kindness as a weakness, says Timber Hawkeye. He wrote the book 'Buddhist Boot Camp', about how to bring more kindness, compassion, peace and understanding in our lives. "Indeed, it now seems very acceptable to openly express your frustrations. But remember that words have enormous power, positive or negative. The world becomes a better place if we are nicer to each other. A vegetarian can be nice to someone who eats meat. Someone on a bike can be nice to someone in a big car.
We all have our own path in life. Every person has the right to wake up in his or her own time, to become mature, to grow up. Enlightened isn't something you are, it is something you do. Maybe you can alleviate someone's depressed mood today by saying a friendly hello or by smiling. I always like to think that a stranger is a friend whom I just haven't met yet."
Exercise 1: Be grateful
Kindness also begins on the inside. Thoughts always come before words or deeds. An unkind thought can be nipped in the bud by opposing it with gratitude. Timber says, "I can live with someone, observe that they never get around to doing the dishes, and argue about it. Or I can feel gratitude for the fact that someone is willing to live with me, and start a friendly conversation. When you evoke gratitude in yourself, unkind thoughts will melt away. Positive and negative feelings cannot exist simultaneously."
Exercise 2: Make up a different story
Emotions are felt for about a minute, unless we dress them up in all sorts of thoughts and become entangled in a negative story. Let an unkind emotion come up and fade away again. Don't attach any negative thoughts to it. You could also try to think of positive ones instead. Timber says, "I talked to someone who was often irritated by people cutting in traffic on her way home. Now she tells herself that that person may be desperate for the toilet, or wants to get home to a sick child. And then she thinks: Alright, you can go first."
Text: Astrid Maria Boshuisen [edited] - Photo: Katherine Hanlon
Curious about how you can bring more compassion, peace and understanding into your life? In Happinez - Being in the here and now there's an article about the 'workout for the soul' that Timber Hawkeye advocates.