Approaching the holiday season, people begin to think more about giving and sharing, about love and peace on earth. As our global consciousness expands deeper into oneness on this planet, physical gifts and material objects seem less important than gifts of the heart. December is a month to remind ourselves that giving love is a year-round practice beyond any holiday traditions.
How does a loving heart express itself in the world? Through kindness. Through small or large acts of caring that make a difference in someone else’s life. I find that it’s the love of friends and family that sustains and uplifts me on a daily basis. For example, a dear friend in California regularly sends me the publication Positive News, which features stories about positive change on the planet. The lives and activities of the individuals therein inspire and give me hope, but I am also moved by my friend’s kindness in faithfully sending me the newspaper because she knows I love it. It may not seem hugely significant, but it is small thoughtful actions like this one that make us feel cared for.
A telephone call, an email, a greeting card, or a kind word can make all the difference in someone’s day. The simple act of listening—to a friend or a stranger—is a wonderful gift. So many of us just want to be heard, to know that our lives are not invisible and unnoted in the world. We who live in or near cities have a tendency to shut down when we’re in public because we are bombarded with so many stimuli and people. I am guilty of this. I often retreat into my own mental sanctuary so that I’m not overwhelmed by the noise and frenetic activity around me. Recently, however, I find that if I ride the bus or walk down the street with an open heart and a smile on my face, then I experience my environment entirely differently. I see the beauty in the sky, in the city, and in people’s faces. My own smile is reflected in other’s smiles, and shared words become a blessing, not a burden.
Really, the greatest kindness you can show anyone is that of seeing their inner spirit. We interact with so many people during any given day—coworkers, bus drivers and passengers, cashiers, friends, family members—the list is endless. But do we take the time to really see each person? If you look beneath the surface presentation of self, there is a unique human spirit wanting to express itself. Perhaps no one else during the day has given them that chance. Be that person. Be fully present and truly see and appreciate the special individual you are interacting with. And don’t forget to include animals in your appreciation—they too have beautiful spirits that want to be seen!
Let kindness be your first impulse this holiday season and in the coming year. What you and I experience from others is what we ourselves feel in our hearts. It begins there. Loving-kindness is not just an idea or a Buddhist meditation practice. It is a way of being in the world. It is the living heart and soul of humankind.
“Like concentric circles stretching outwards in a pond, you never know how far the ripples of kindness will extend.”—Panache Desai