Kindness is rarely, if ever, wasted. Too often, we take things and people for granted and this apathy, no matter how unintentional, can do great harm. “You never know what’s going on in someone’s life. You never know what’s really going on behind what they present.” – Hill Harper
We may get testy with someone in line at the grocery store or maybe we give a dirty look to someone who didn’t hold the elevator door for us. Perhaps your co-worker seems remote and distant and it bothers you, so you want to confront them? Whatever the scenario, sometimes people are struggling and there is something going on in their lives that causes them stress or sadness. Its easy to mistakenly get the wrong impression from people — we misread them and we quickly get offended. We’re all fallible after all, so jumping to conclusions or making snap judgements doesn’t necessarily make one a bad person — it may just make us insensitive…even if we’re not aware of that insensitivity.
That’s why leading with kindness is always best. Whenever we get impatient or annoyed with someone’s words or actions, we should be mindful that we don’t really know what’s going on in their life. The story “Learn to think differently,” does a good job in bring this point home:
Learn to think differently
The man doesn’t know that there is a snake underneath. The woman doesn’t know that there is a stone crushing the man. The woman thinks: “I am going to fall! And I can’t climb because the snake is going to bite me! Why can’t the man use a little more strength and pull me up!” The man thinks: “I am in so much pain! Yet I’m still pulling you as much as I can! Why don’t you try and climb a little harder!?”
The moral is— you can’t see the pressure the other person is under, and the other person can’t see the pain you’re in. This is life, whether it’s with work, family, feelings or friends, we should try to understand each other. Learn to think differently, perhaps more clearly and communicate better. A little thought and patience goes a long way.
Be kind to people. Everyone we meet is fighting their own battle.
– Author unknown
Having a heart and mind centered on kindness and compassion is a very good thing. When we’re tempted to snap at someone or assume their words or actions are meant to be overtly confrontational, we should pause, take a breath, not take it personally and, remember that perhaps, they’re really doing the very best they can.
“The sad thing is, nobody ever really knows how much anyone else is hurting. We could be standing next to somebody who is completely broken and we wouldn’t even know it.” — Unknown