Kindness, Compassion & Mercy — Commentary by Sally Jo Gilbert de Vargas

We have sent you (oh Prophet) as a mercy for all humankind.”(Qur’an 21:107)

“If kindness were a visible creation, nothing which Allah has created would be more beautiful than it. “~The Prophet Muhammad

Have you noticed how often your mood changes during the day?  One of the most puzzling aspects of my own life is how often my mood changes at “the drop of a hat,” it seems.  It has occurred to me recently that there may be a remedy for this situation.  What if I inject kindness into any situation that occurs which sets me off into a bad mood?  Is that possible?  Let’s do a thought experiment.

Mood swings happen in the mind/heart, and I’ve noticed that one comment (or lack thereof) can sometimes flip the switch for me.  Someone says or does something which I perceive as hurtful or insensitive, and either in the moment, or later when recalling it, my mood starts to fall.  What if I were to conjure up a kind and loving thought about that person right at that moment?  Maybe even say something kind or do a kind act?  If that person isn’t available, try it with someone else, or do it remotely (by text or email).  I wonder what would happen?

Other instances that set me off are when I do something “stupid” or disappoint myself.  Maybe I break a glass, get lost, or trip and drop the dozen eggs I’m carrying.  Instead of laughing (which I would probably do if someone else did it) I get angry and my mood goes downhill.  What if I practiced kindness with myself?  Told myself it’s just a silly mistake, laugh, or just pretend it was someone else who did it, not me!? In other words, lighten up!  Be kind to myself!  That is the first step.

Let’s not mistake self-defense for self-kindness. I have a habit of feeling self-righteous, or wanting to defend myself when under perceived attack from another.  That happens especially when someone has hit a “sore spot” for me – something I’m already insecure about. Defending myself by turning on the other person in anger is not kind to myself or anyone else.  Perhaps I could tell myself, in a gentle tone, “Just relax, let it go, maybe there’s some truth to that…we’ll think about it later in the privacy of our own mind and heart!”  

Lately I’ve been in so many phone calls where I’m trying to resolve a problem remotely, and it isn’t going well.  I can’t get through to a real person, or the right real person, and when I do, they can’t help me, or I can’t understand them, or they can’t understand me…!  You know the story.  How about a little kindness?  The other day during a similar situation, I heard a baby crying on the other end of the line.  Kindness immediately flooded my heart.  I said, “Oh, you have a baby there!  How sweet!  Pobrecita!” (Poor little thing!)  Not only did the conversation shift, the mood shifted for everyone, including the baby! My problem was resolved quickly. I got lucky that time, because the kindness just flowed. Why not be intentional about this practice?

I don’t know about you, but I am definitely going to give this a try.  The Dalai Lama says, “My religion is kindness.”  If we were to treat kindness as important as a religion, and really use it regularly, I believe it could change our lives, and the lives of those we touch every day.

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