“Kindness is as sustaining to life as the ocean is to this planet”
One of the best aspects of writing online articles is the opportunity to interact with the readers. On several occasions, those conversations not only spawned additional articles but I also had the pleasure of meeting new and wonderful connections. Such was the case for last week’s (click here to read it).
To begin with, the beautiful artwork is by Oksana Rus; a talented, young multi-media artist who mentioned that article touched her and she asked if I wanted to collaborate. I was thrilled and grateful to feature art from such a brilliant and kind soul.
Shortly after that, business consultant, Charlene Norman, affirmed in a message that kindness was quite essential and important to her as well. However, she included an additional comment which caught me completely off guard. So much so that my brain immediately began racing around, pondering what she had expressed.
She wrote, “I too believe kindness is the only way forward. So much better than the gratitude thing that seems to pervade”.
Gratitude, to her, was receiving much more attention while kindness, on the other hand, wasn’t getting the spotlight it deserved. This was an intriguing concept and one which I had not previously considered thoroughly. Both gratitude and kindness are important virtues so why would she feel so adamantly about kindness?
With her permission, I am recounting, as well as elaborating on, my response to her.
Gratitude is typically something we feel about ourselves while kindness is largely doing something for others. Undoubtedly there are a myriad of things for which we can have gratitude; however, it essentially is a measure of our own emotional state. Kindness, while also being something which we can show ourselves, mostly is an act done to others.
Gratitude, however, is not a trait monopolized only by the virtuous; even an evil person can be grateful for his gain. It is, although, difficult for someone with ill intent to be kind. Showing a form of kindness to someone because of needing something from them, is not kindness but rather manipulation under the guise of it.
Bear in mind this is not an attempt to repress gratitude and turn the limelight on kindness, it is merely an observation about the differences between the two. Both are exceptional virtues and ones which most definitely require more focus and practice from all of us. But what may set kindness apart is that its outcome will always affect others.
Certainly gratitude can show on a person’s face but showing kindness to others creates lasting effects. How many instances can you recall when others kindness positively affected you? Now try and recollect the times you remember someone being grateful and it moved you in the same way kindness did.
It may be that being kind to others is more difficult or several other reasons why gratitude receives more attention, what’s important is that more of both occur. This week, focus on increasing both and see whose life you can touch. If you have a memorable experience, please leave a note in the comments.