Developing a Kind Heart
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by monicadear
Part of my personal development is to consistently strive to develop "kindness of being" by being compassionate, open, and empathetic with the people who come into my life. Most of the time, this is very easy, as I tend to be surrounded by (and choose to surround myself with) kind, compassionate, open, and empathetic people! Sometimes, however, with one or two people who happen to come into my life, it becomes difficult to maintain my composure and equanimity!
If someone is going through a difficult time and I'm not feeling particularly kind, I find myself becoming frustrated when I hear about negative issues such as someone wanting too much but not being able to achieve it, or someone not being able to accomplish something because of a lack of clarity, or someone getting stuck in a destructive cycle. I know that if I'm feeling frustrated, it's because I see someone else's sticky situation as a potential mirror of my own sticky situations.
I always learn the most from people who irritate me, frustrate me, or give me a sense of discomfort, anger, or annoyance.
This is worth repeating: we typically learn more from the challenging people and situations in our life. We grow, expand our consciousness, and become more experienced through the difficulties we run into, not the easy patches.
Why would someone else's situation rub me the wrong way? Why would I dwell on some minor issue in someone else's life? Why might I have such a strong reaction to someone else's predicament? Some would say that our adversaries are our greatest teachers, and I think this is true. When I get along well with someone else, it is relatively easy for me to interact with them, to have fun with them, to show them kindness, and to generally have a good time with them. When I have a little bit of discomfort with someone else, and it is difficult, or a struggle, or just a pain to interact with them -- these are the times when I can stand to stop, take a deep breath, and truly understand what is happening in the situation. These are the times where I can truly exercise the practice of developing a kind heart.
The oyster turns out a beautiful pearl by creating layer after layer on top of an irritating dust particle. We can do the same when we see the irritations in our life as being opportunities for us to practice patience, kindness, and compassion. This is not to say that we should attract only toxic and one-sided relationships to us -- instead, if we find ourselves in an uncomfortable place, we can understand how we arrived there and we can choose to step into it, experience it, learn from it, and then put it away.
There is no need to wallow in pity, anger, or self-righteousness. There is no need to harangue someone else, or lecture to them, or try and change their mind --- or worse, to do something for them. There is only one path for each of us, and each of us is walking day by day on our own journey. Every day when we wake up, we each have a chance to re-create our world with the face of empathy and understanding, or we can choose to color our world with distaste, disgust, and mistrust. We can choose the outcome. I encourage you to choose kindness in your daily practice.