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Be Kind to People You Think Least Deserve Kindness

 Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.

—Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Several years ago on a summer’s day, I noticed a man and woman working diligently on sealing our elderly neighbor’s driveway. Busy taking care of my young children, I did not pay close attention. I knew how sweltering hot the afternoon had been. When I saw that they were finishing up, I happily grabbed several water bottles from the fridge, opened our front door, and jogged over to them. They appeared to be in a rush. I handed them the water. I thanked them for all their hard work. Saying nothing, they looked at me in such a puzzled way before they quickly climbed into their vehicle and drove away.

When my then-husband returned from work, he immediately noticed the awful spray paint job the so-called “contractors” had done.

After a lengthy conversation with our elderly neighbor, we realized how much money she had given them, how they had scared and confused her, and insisted she pay cash. Feeling a deep shame and embarrassment for having “rewarded” the gypsies, I felt passionate about righting the situation. I walked door to door asking neighbors-all of whom I had gotten to know- for donations. People gave generously. I called a reputable company that came and properly sealed our neighbor’s driveway. Our elderly neighbor’s eyes teared up as she expressed her gratitude. My then-husband and I encouraged her to call us if she ever felt afraid of overzealous door-to-door salespeople.

A few days later I sheepishly admitted to a close neighbor friend what I had done. He happened to be a minister. He said, “That might have been the best thing to awaken the hearts of those gypsies, Laura. No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. Even the least among us deserves kindness.” He meant every word. I felt forgiven for being naïve, for leading with my heart.

Be kind to those you think least deserve kindness.

Maybe you think this person is YOU….or those most despised parts of yourself that keep showing up in other people around you because every person you encounter is a mirror of your own humanity.

I have constantly heard over the years how we can be our own worst enemies, our own cruelest critics. Maybe it’s time to hold sacred space and be kind to the inner bully, the inner critic, to all our petulant, anxious, jealous, pity partying, scared, faking it, crabby inner children.

I haven’t murdered anyone or stolen from anyone, but I’ve had thoughts in the past about wishing certain people in my life were dead. I haven’t attempted to take my own life, but in some of my darkest days, I did consider this an option. And I definitely have wondered about being a Robin Hood type person. I continue to realize that I am not all that different from any other human being. This keeps me humble, raw, real, and kind.

What I continue to learn is that as I make peace with all these inner characters-hold space for their complaints, fears, irrational thoughts, panties in a wad- moments, itchy, scratchy angsty stuff, I discover deeper compassion with every human being I encounter, befriend, and love-from the homeless people begging in the cold to the woman at the lake who yells at her dog and threatens to hurt him (and I know she loves her dog!)) to my perfectly imperfect, lovable Sweet Love.

In the place of deep acceptance of all of me—ego-personality and Inner Quiet Charlotte- who bears witness to all of life including my inner children gyrations, I have discovered a place for kindness to emerge naturally towards myself and other human beings.

Over the years when I learn what someone genuinely loves, especially the ones that I might initially be annoyed by or critical of-or not understand their unconscionable actions-I imagine that person doing what they actually love that doesn’t hurt other people-like laughing with beloved ones, or playing golf and rolling with laughter on the greens when they whiff a shot or peacefully fly-fishing all day long. I imagine people healing, transforming, decluttering (whatever that looks like for them!), becoming whole, beautiful, radiant, and filled with joy. This keeps me sane and happy. Genuinely wishing goodness for other people and myself feels amazing. Looking for and then performing acts of kindness towards all types of people can become a way to live an exceptionally wonderful life.

May you find ways to be kind to the parts of yourself that you do not like and to love them, too. May you discover ways to do acts of kindness for people you have thought were not ever worthy because you now know grace at its very core. 

Laura Staley
Laura Staleyhttp://www.cherishyourworld.com
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately helps people thrive by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, mind, body, and soul. Laura knows that there’s a relationship between the conditions of our homes or workplaces and the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by almost two decades of working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to empower her clients to produce remarkable results in their lives. Her trifecta of serving people includes speaking, writing, and compassionate listening. As a columnist, Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. Laura is the published author of three books: Live Inspired, Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui, and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a fulltime parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include laughing with loved ones, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. She resides in Black Mountain, NC with lovable dog, Layla. Laura is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

12 COMMENTS

  1. Laura, my cherished soul friend! no words would describe how I feel after reading this masterpiece!   Your heart is so pure that we can see through it! Your mesmerizing limitless humility, gratitude, and bravery made it possible for your soul to be set free; and that’s a gift we can’t trade with anything in life! I couldn’t agree more with how eloquently you described that our gift of kindness is free and doesn’t depend on who is receiving it! Nonetheless,, I might need to argue when it comes to “because every person you encounter is a mirror of your own humanity”. It seems to me that, in more case-scenarios than we wish could be true, many individuals are threatened by the beauty of your soul than they are the reflection of your insecurities! I believe that’s what happened with those contractors like it surely happened and will still happen with my troubled and eternally tormented souls, my friend! Truth is they don’t know better and that’s okay! In other words, the exquisite person you are will always be kind (especially with strangers), not because they deserve it but because this is how you choose to show up in the world! One of my quotes that is the closest to my heart in such a context is: “When the pure spirit and love are driving your behavior, the uncontrollable result doesn’t matter. You listened to your integrity call, honored it, and decided to pay the price. What comes out of it is none of your business. No one can break another person’s denial circle. Learn to deal with it, give yourself a big hug, and move on with your life!”

    • Dear Myriam, Thank you so much for all you’ve shared here, my soul friend. There’s something really empowering about aligning one’s actions to deeper values and vision-no matter what-and as consistently as possible living and taking action from one’s heart and deepest held commitments. This continues to be what frees me. And I appreciate your insight that “many individuals are threatened by the beauty of your soul than they are the reflection of your insecurities.” That is simply brilliant! I see that very clearly now after all these years, all the reframing and rewiring. Tormented souls may not ever know the beauty before them-and that is not ever an excuse to not shine the light elsewhere and for many other people! The liberation of living true to one’s own soul callings, purpose, and kindness becomes its own fulfillment and abundant gift of being. The last quote is amazing too. I appreciate all your meaningful and empowering words shared here. You are a treasure, a wise soul indeed.

      With heartfelt gratitude and love,
      Laura

  2. Laura, my dear,

    I cannot even find words to describe your honesty and kindness except the phrase I use “platinum-style authenticity.” That does not even give justice to your splendid attributes. You may have impacted those workers in a way you may never be informed. As the Butterfly Effect reminds us, they may keep that gesture in the recesses of their mind to be conjured again at a later point. No acts of kindness should ever be shameful. Your heart has no bounds. Now wonder “Cherish” fits you so appropriately. Thank you for this.

    With a smile,

    Darlene

    • Thank you so much for your incredibly affirming and uplifting words, energy, Darlene. May you know how much your kindness means to me, my friend. With much appreciation for you, your encouragement, and recognition that “No acts of kindness should ever be shameful.” Yes! Exactly. With heartfelt gratitude, Laura

    • Thank you for your kind words and insights. Yes, it can be such a reframe to see one’s outbound actions from loving kindness towards people others might perceive as “unworthy.” as still meaningful, worthwhile. While acting from kindness-no matter what- aligns with the teachings of Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Mother Teresa, and many others, it often goes against the other types of conditioning or “teaching” of punishing those who have done wrong rather than showing or modeling the ways of kindness, or of allowing people to experience the natural consequences of their actions. For we do know that an “eye for an eye” makes the whole world blind-so there must be a different way. Or as Dr. MLK Jr. stated it, “Hate cannot drive out hate..only love can do that.” I appreciate your thoughts and your taking the time to share them. I appreciate you!

    • Oh, Kimberly, thank you for these really kind words. I’m grateful for you, too, my friend, more than you might realize. And thank you for sharing this essay with your network. I truly appreciate that kind deed. 🙂 Enjoy this time of transition in your life as you prepare to move to Costa Rica!!

  3. Laura — I live on a very busy street in Queens, NY. All it takes is one delivery truck to back up traffic, make the NYC drivers even more impatient, and start the discordant “symphony” of car horns. I will try wishing these drivers good thoughts – I don’t know their story – instead of glaring down at them from our 6th floor co-op. Not going to approach them with a water bottle, though. Not yet anyway.

    Thanks for a heartwarming story. You are special!

    • I appreciate the very different context in which you live and work. I have visited NYC a handful of times and found it incredibly stressful (I realized I’m not a big city person). A friend that we visited would reframe the honking horns as New Yorkers saying “Hello” to one another…a variation on your practice of wishing them goodness. I also remember being in an elevator with a delightful, comical woman (I had just met) who got two very sour-faced German ladies laughing so hard by the time we had gone from the 7th floor down to the lobby. She stood right in front of them-beamed at them. She kept saying-“I know there’s a smile inside of you somewhere.” She exuded so much joy that her invitation became irresistible for everyone in the elevator. We likely shocked everyone in the lobby as we came bursting out of the elevator belly laughing loudly-the entire group of us! (it was a packed elevator). Ah, the good brain hormones that likely got flowing-when I think of NYC-I immediately remember that experience. So good! Thank you so much for your reflections and your kind words, Jeff. I appreciate you very much, my friend and colleague!

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