Since my last post, I have been thinking a great deal about kindness. ‘You will never regret being kind.’ I wrote these words, and I meant them. These words of advice I gave have filled my thoughts. Since that time, I have been questioning how much of my life I actually live by them. Do my beliefs align with my actions?
How can I ensure that my actions are aligned with my beliefs? How can I fill my interactions with others with kindness while still holding onto my truth? If I can find a way to speak my truth, and still uphold a few questions then I am acting in a way which aligns with the person I am working to become. So what are these questions? They come from a number of places. I’ve heard my mom reference them from her Rotary Group, and in an initiative that she is working to implement into local schools. I’ve also heard these questions in mindfulness training; as the three gates through which something should pass prior to being spoken. I’ve read about these sentiments and heard them in a number of podcasts. When utilized, they can genuinely have a positive influence.
- Is it True?
- Is it Kind?
- Is it Necessary?
I would be lying if I said I used these questions all the time, in all of my speech and interactions. However, when it comes to important conversations, to creating authentic relationships, and increasing vulnerability, these questions have not failed me. There are times, when these questions have saved me from saying something that was true, and was perhaps necessary, but wasn’t kind. And if I had spoken these words, albeit true, I would have been filled with regret. It’s when I am able to interject kindness that I am able to walk away from a conversation feeling authentic and without remorse.
There are moments in our lives when we are faced with the opportunity to practice what we preach. Moments when our faith and our values are tested; and it’s in these moments where true character is forged. It’s easy to let yourself get caught up in the moment, and say something that may be true, but isn’t kind. It’s easy to let words spill out in anger in the heat of the moment. If you take a deep breath (or six), take a step back and search your soul, in that microsecond of silence, you can come out of the situation with a clear conscience.
I recently finished the book Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown, when it comes to these tough conversations her words were simple, “Clear is Kind, Unclear is unkind.” These words are simple, but also align with the three gates. When there is no ambiguity about your words and you are very clear, there is no room for alternative interpretation. When clarity is involved it’s easy to interpret kindness, and not wonder about someone’s alternative intention.
It was R.J. Palacio in the book Wonder, who wrote “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” Today as you find yourself in situations where you are faced with the opportunity to be kind, choose it. Choose kindness everyday. Choose it over being right. If you aren’t sure, ask yourself the three gates and be clear.