Kindness is the best gift. You know because it gives you that welcome skip in the heart, whether you're giving or receiving. Yet in this time of frantic holiday making, kindness can get lost along the way.
I've always found that an easy way to make a positive change is to take stock of how I'm doing. I invite you to do the same as a way of becoming an even kinder person.
So as you read through these seven steps, think about how you're doing. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how would you rate yourself on each step? More later about what to do next.
1. Be kind to me. If you're not taking care of yourself -- exercising, taking time on your own, sitting quietly, reading -- your well is empty. Then it's too easy to become resentful and impatient, let alone kind to others. Just 20 minutes a day makes a difference.
2. Speak from my heart. In the past few months I've realized that this step is vital. Taking a breath, reaching deep, and speaking kindly and authentically is far better than sharing what's on my mind about what I need from others. An instant connection is made and love is present.
3. Be interested, not interesting. I heard this wisdom decades ago from Werner Erhard, one of my earliest teachers. Being genuinely interested is a high level of caring and compassion. These words from the ancient philosopher Plato have recently been popular sharing material -- and no wonder.
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
4. Be positive. For over four decades we've been having family reunions, and our motto when we're together is to remember PMA -- having a Positive Mental Attitude. The Buddha said that people with a kind heart have a "a single flavor in that it is always and exclusively positive."
5. Give up gossip. Recently I've made a vow to give up gossiping, and it's made me realize how prevalent it is. It's so easy to get caught up in an enticing yet unkind conversation about someone else. But if you've ever been the target of gossip, as I have been, you know how painful it can be.
6. Forgive and forget. Yes, you've been wronged and you've been hurt. Yes, there are those who get angry with you and criticize you -- and you want them to stop. But the best course is to forgive them, forget the past, and go to work being kind to them. Then watch for miracles.
7. Let it go! The film "Frozen" is one of most popular in recent years -- when Elsa sings "Let it Go," we get it. Last summer my 3-year-old granddaughter Ruby sang this song constantly and with such heartfelt passion that we could tell she understood exactly what it meant. The only payoff for holding on to our grudges is being right.
Now having given some thought to how you're now doing on these guidelines, choose just one to improve on in the coming weeks on the run up to the holiday celebrations. Trust me, the others will be there when you're better about the one you work on.
And may your kindness bring you a big return on your investment.
Be kind whenever possible.
It is always possible.
-- the Dalai Lama
What was your choice? Why did you choose that one? Scroll down to share your answer or make a comment -- or write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you.