…as you would have them do unto you.
The idea of treating people as you’d want to be treated is all good and well in theory.
But when it comes down to the crunch, is it what you practice in your day to day life.
When people talk about this topic of how we should treat other people, often they’re thinking of how they want to be treated. Yet the same kindness, respect, honestly, understanding and patience is not extended to others.
It doesn’t mean that you’re cruel to people, it could be something as small as not holding the door open for people but expecting others to do it for you.
Sometimes it’s intentional and sometimes it’s by accident. But when you catch yourself treating someone in a way you would not want to be treated, change your behavior.
It’s really easy to say, ‘That’s just how I am’.
Some people even use that as a way to justify continually being unkind to others or even themselves.
But the beauty of life is that we have the opportunity to change and overcome.
I recently wrote about not feeling good enough, something I struggled with for years.
As a result of feeling that way I created a life that I was unhappy with and I became someone who self-sabotaged, had little self-belief and would constantly settle for less. Furthermore, I struggled to stand up for myself.
Once I stopped passively accepting those parts of me as just the way things are, I realised that things could be different, things could be better. I also realised that I was capable of changing my own life.
At the time I didn’t feel capable and it was hard to imagine what things would be like if they were different but I started to believe it was possible.
My personal development and growth was an active change that I worked for and continue to work on.
This sort of thing is really at the crux of the message I want to share on this site. What I want for you to take away from this is you that don’t have to accept the way things are.
One of the easiest things you can do is to be kind.
It can come in many forms but I think it is often the smallest things that have the most impact.
It can be easy to think that you need to go above and beyond and make some kind of grand gesture but that’s not the case.
Kind is described as ‘having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature’.
It could come in the form of something small like smiling at a stranger, offering to help someone or even just listening.
You don’t need to be kind because you want something in return, do it because you like the type of world that kindness creates, lead by example.
So lets say you’re someone who has a habit of running late. And this has happened quite a few times with Friend A who is always super understanding about it.
Perhaps the first time you were late you were super apologetic and felt bad but you were also glad your friend was understanding and didn’t get mad about it.
For some people, when they keep getting a kind response as a reaction to their mistakes they’ll end up being less and less apologetic.
Afterall, what’s the point in preparing for the worst case scenario when the past responses have taught you that things will turn out fine.
This is how people end up taking advantage of kindness.
I used the example of being late but this can apply to any scenario where your actions directly effect someone else.
The point is that when you’re making mistakes or when you’re in the wrong you shouldn’t expect for others to just be cool with it. In fact, in some ways it’s actually healthy to accept one of the worst potential outcomes as it’ll keep you on your toes and your apology is much more likely to be genuine.
Granted, the best option will always be to do better but mistakes will always happen and that’s okay.
You have the choice to treat people however you like and sometimes that will depend on how much you care.
Small acts of kindness can allow you to escape your own mind for long enough to remember that we’ve all got stuff going on.
Without knowing it, sometimes the kindness of strangers can be enough to change someone’s mood or brighten their day.
It doesn’t have to be something big, it could be as small as making someone a drink or picking something up that you thought they’d like when you’re out shopping.
In order to do those things you have to get out of your head a little and pay attention to what’s around you. In some ways kindness is about not being bare minimum.
You do it because you want to, not because you have to.
How do you feel when you try something that doesn’t work?
One of the things that limits people from trying new things or just being themselves is not the thing itself but the feeling that comes afterwards.
That feeling of being exposed. Of all eyes on you and nothing to show for yourself. The thought of people knowing you tried and failed.
Especially when you already feel your own disappointment.
So, how about if instead of focusing on how bad it feels you focus on being kinder to yourself.
After all it might be worth acknowledging that you had the courage to try in the first place.
Sometimes people have no idea of the role they’ve played in our lives but maybe that’s how it was meant to be.
I hold the belief that you meet people for specific reasons. Often people come into our lives to serve as reminders of things that we’ve forgotten.
And when you eventually remember you are so thankful to these people even if you aren’t aware of the purpose they came into your life to serve.
You’re thankful because they cared, extended kindness, listened to you, supported you, helped you grow into yourself etc.
Yet, thank you isn’t quite enough and you might end up trying to find some way that you can repay this person that has helped transform you (and therefore your whole life) but it probably won’t be possible.
And that right there is the gem, sometimes a persons kindness and generosity isn’t given to be returned, it’s given because that person has chosen to give it. You’re not indebted to them or obligated to return anything.
Yes, show gratitude but also to do something with what you’ve been given. Maybe that kindness/generosity was to encourage you to try new things, get you out of your shell, remind you that it’s okay to be yourself and so on.
The feeling can get quite overwhelming (in a good way) but it’s worth remembering that in these particular special occasions it’s not about the giver, it’s about what you do with what you’ve been given.
It’s easy to be kind if you’re willing to care.
Small acts of kindness can allow you to escape your own mind long enough to remember that we’ve all got stuff going on.
I’ve had days where the kindness of strangers has been enough to totally transform my day.
It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. It can be something as simple as saying ‘Good morning’ or holding the door open for the person behind you.
It feels good when someone does it for you so don’t forget to do it for someone else.
What do you say when someone totally surprises you with their words and actions?
When they are generous and kind in ways that they don’t need to be, when they go above and beyond what they’re required to do.
I almost overlooked that it would have taken this person effort and care to handle the situation the way that they did.
I was too busy walking around with my hands in my pockets, refusing to be vulnerable despite this person creating the ideal setting for me to do so.
But I later realised that the way I had acted was a little ungrateful and it had tainted the whole interaction.
I really wish I’d had simply said ‘Thank you for trying!’