Yesterday I found myself thinking, I wish people would be kinder to one another. Then it struck me. I can't control how kind anyone is to anyone else. All I can do is be kinder in the way I approach others and in how I choose to live my life. If I see the world as lacking kindness, then it's up to me to be as kind as I can in order to bring about the vibration of kindness. I can also choose to see kindness in others and focus on that instead of negativity, which will change my experience.
In her process called The Work, Byron Katie points out that whenever we judge traits in another and find them somehow lacking, we only set ourselves up for unhappiness. Therefore, she suggests doing The Work, which is a process of inquiry about our judgments.
Katie recommends four questions and a turn around about our judgment, so in this case, my judgment is, "People should be kinder."
Question 1: Is that true?
Objectively, yes. I do wish people were kinder.
Question 2: Can you absolutely know it's true?
No. I don't know 100 percent that people should be kinder.
Question 3: How do you react when you believe that thought?
I react by feeling sad people aren't as kind as I want them to be. It makes me unhappy. Occasionally, I may use that thought to be less kind myself.
Question 4: Who would you be without that thought?
I'd be kinder, and I'd be happier because I wouldn't wander around feeling upset when people weren't kind enough. I'd choose kindness myself because being kind is who I want to be, and that would be independent of how kind other people were.
Turn it around: (In other words, turn around the statement in ways that are equally true).
Turn around 1: People shouldn't be kinder. Why not? Because if they should be, they would be.
Turn around 2: I should be kinder. Absolutely true. Kindness is my value, and if I want to experience kindness in the world, I need to be kind in spite of how others behave.
This simple process is a valuable way to look at your own judgments and find ways to be more authentically you in the world without projecting onto others how they should behave or think. It also served as a good reminder for me this week about kindness;it is a quality I can choose to cultivate and it isn't up to me what others choose, no matter how much I wish I could make people play nice.
So, I'm choosing kindness because it serves me, and it makes me happy. What others do is entirely up to them.