“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” ~Henry James
I have been thinking a lot about kindness lately because I believe it defines our capacity to show up in our life. The Buddhists teach loving kindness as a fundamental doctrine for both inner and outer peace. In fact, religious philosophy of all denominations hold kindness as central teaching to a life well lived. Most of us learn this expectation in early childhood as we are taught the mechanism of sharing and gentleness with our peers. Yet for all the many ways we have learned kindness and the true simplicity of its execution, kindness is often not our primary or innate response.
Kindness surprises us. We are too accustomed to the lack of it. I don’t know if other people notice the cruelty exchanged by people who are related to each other in a grocery store line or the belittling that parents deliver through the reprimands in the park. I wince at the harsh tones and unkind words that these same people would not consider directing at a stranger. They don’t think twice about the damage they are wreaking with the people they hold most dear. This is true for me as well. Most of us can vividly recall moments when we wonder how we could have been so unkind.
Kindness is how our capacity for self-love expresses itself. The degree to which we are able to be kind and compassionate with ourselves, reflects the limits of what we can offer to others. To be more kind you have to begin with how you talk to yourself. One simple, but vigilant practice that can create an enormous shift in self-compassion is to start paying attention to the negative thinking that dominates most of our 60,000 daily thoughts. Studies have shown that as much as 80 percent of our thoughts are negative and repeating. We hear them day after day, which makes it easy to confuse familiarity with truth. Rooting out the negativity we practice on ourselves is the first big step in being kinder to the people around you.
I have been teaching for a long time about the magical influence that kindness has when it is extended to your intimate relationships. Offering kindness with a quiet gesture of support, or a look of understanding goes miles towards creating a safe and reliable container for your love to grow. Practicing kindness in our language towards other people creates new openings and the space for forgiveness and letting go to occur. The tone in which you communicate matters as much as the words themselves. Kindness is a reliable balancer of mood and temper and being loved pulls us to our own center.
A primary attribute of a passionate and lasting sex life is the safety of the relationship that contains it. Kindness in words and actions weaves a strong fabric of trust that offers both people a safe space to open up to their erotic selves with curiosity. Kindness is the cure for increasing the vulnerability you share with your partner. Our real nakedness comes not in taking off our clothes together, but in letting down our emotional guards that keep us distant. Finding kindness in our sexuality is a pathway to pure and deep pleasure.