Conditional kindness isn’t good enough

Conditional kindness isn’t good enough

In light of the recent shootings and various acts of violence going on in our country and around the world, there’s been a lot of posts on social media about how we need to love each other and stop tolerating hate, etc. This is of course great and I completely agree.

But here’s something I saw shared recently:

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Now while it’s clear the intention here is to be another one of those lovey-dovey “I’m helpful” and “I’m a decent member of society” posts, the reality of this message is no better than the violence it’s presumably against.

When kindness is conditional

The caveat “if you’re nice to me” is really quite dangerous. What happens when someone isn’t nice to you? How will you react? Will you act out in violence? Or maybe withhold kindness and call it fair? Because if so, your heart is in the same place as those whom I refuse to name.

We need to love people. That’s it. Love people. Which people? All people.

But what if they’re not nice to me? ALL people.

Even the people who are jerks. They’re the ones who are most vulnerable and most in need of love. And your acts of kindness towards them will likely make a bigger impact on them than on the nice people who share your religious and political views.

Whether you want to take a page out of Jesus’ book or Buddha’s, there’s a lot to learn about unconditional kindness that I for one would love to see implemented in our society on a much larger scale than it is now.

Us vs. them

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When we see people as separate from ourselves — whether they are different because they are “black, which, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, rich, or poor” or any plethora of other differences we can have —we feel less inclined to help them. They aren’t family; they aren’t friends. They “don’t even go here“. So when they’re in trouble, why should we come to their rescue? In fact why should we even be that friendly towards them unless they are friendly to us first?

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A better alternative

How would the world be if everyone took a proactive approach to kindness? If we all reached out with love for one another, regardless of the response we might get, or not get. What if we gave kindness without conditions or expectations?

Imagine that’s how you lived your life every day. How would you then feel if someone suggested to you that you be nice to someone if they were nice to you?

That would require you to now decrease your kindness. You’d go from being kind to everybody, to now only those who are kind to you. This idea would likely sound odd to you, and feel very unnatural.

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If being kind to everyone without conditions or expectations is our natural state, then we will indeed grow to find anything else unnatural and uncomfortable. The person I aspire to be creates positive change by being a light in a world of darkness. I aspire to give kindness to those who need it most, to those who need it least, and to everyone in between. And I hope the kindness they receive will inspire them to pass it on to the next person. But if not, I will accept that. I can’t control how people react or what they do with my kindness. I can only control myself.

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Who do you aspire to be?

5 Self Love Affirmations

I was reading Flamidwyfe’s Blog and was inspired by her post on 5 affirmations.  So, I took to Pinterest and found 5 affirmations I liked best from my “Truth” board, and thought I’d share them.

The things I post on my Truth board are things that I think are very true ways of looking at life – but they are often the things I most easily forget.  The ones below especially inspire me to live my life the way I want to.  Maybe they’ll inspire you, too?

If you make a post of 5 affirmations, let me know!

The Kahn Game (Pretty Little Liars recap)

Such a good episode!

Note: If you are not caught up with the latest episodes of Pretty Little Liars, you might want to bookmark this post for later.

This week’s episode was The Kahn Game. And it was packedwith new info!  Here’s what we learned:

  • Maya’s site had a picture of her wrist with the stamp (the one that Holden had, that Emily also saw on the night she was drugged).  Thus, Maya did attend “the party”.
  • Ashley (Hanna’s mom) is helping Hanna via getting Veronica (Spencer’s mom, the lawyer) on board with the mandatory blood testing sitch.
  • Caleb knows that there’s still an ‘A’ out there and tricks Hanna into meeting up with him, via sending her a text “from A”.  She fills him in on a bit of the drama.  Kissing ensues.  (Are they back together then?  What about her kissing Wren?)
  • Ezra has a brother, Wes.  We don’t know much about him other than that he’s probably either sketchy, or just plain rude like their mom.  More money/family issues for Ezra.
  • The Liars clue Emily in to the website.  She checks it out, cries, and gets comforted by Paige.
  • Spencer wants to get into UPenn so new girl CeCe takes her and Aria to a party, where she connects her to an old friend, Steven, the UPenn admissions guy (supposedly).
  • Turns out the party 1) is at Noel Kahn’s cabin, and 2) is “the party” – so the girls get their very own stamped wrists.  So we know that Maya was at one of Noel’s cabin parties at least once before she died.
  • At the party, Aria and Noel battle it out via an intensely fast-paced and intensely honest game of Truth or Dare (minus the Dare).  We find out that on the night that Ali’s grave was dug up, Jenna picked Noel up and they went out.  Then he asked about Ezra and Aria freaked out and left.
  • Next, Spencer takes on Jenna.  We learn that Jenna and Noel picked up Emily at the diner (so perhaps the wrist she remembers seeing was Noel’s?)  Jenna lied about this before because she was “trying to protect someone”.   She then asks Spencer where “the video” is.  (Which video?  Are we supposed to remember this?  I have a vague recollection that they have a video of Jenna in her room saying weird things about her love for Toby or something, but maybe I’m making that up.)
  • Aria calls Ezra to pick her up, but talks to his brother instead, who picks her up and spills that Ezra got a girl, Maggie, pregnant back in high school.
  • Ashley has a cute dinner date with Pastor Ted.  (They’re way cuter together than he would be with Ella.)
  • Aria confronts Ezra about Maggie.  He tells her his mom paid her off to leave (with the baby?) and never speak to Ezra again.  (Does he have some kid somewhere?)
  • Spencer receives an email from UPenn admissions saying they received her application.
  • Last scene is ‘A’ getting the keys to apartment A from a woman who loves cats.

What I think:

I loved the Truth game scenes.   So fast-paced!  So good!  I especially loved Jenna’s line, “Isn’t that why you lied about your parents’ lake house?  (laughs) Don’t worry, that was rhetorical.  This isn’t: where is the video?”

SO GOOD!  Way to go Tammin.

I don’t like the stuff we’re finding out about Ezra.  Makes him feel kind of distant, like there’s so much we don’t know about him.  And now he might have a kid?  And he didn’t tell Aria?  Um…

Love Ashley and Ted.  I hope they get married.  He would be a good stepdad for Hanna.

Love Hanna and Caleb!  Ever since that first scene in the shower. ❤

Emily was hardly in this episode.  Eh.

What did you think of this week’s episode?  What do you think happened after Noel and Jenna picked Emily up at the diner?

 

 

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Leaving the City of Guilt, Part II

In Part 2, Joyce makes gives commentary on how we do something wrong and hold on to that guilt, and then do something else wrong and hold on to that guilt on top of the other guilt, and continue in this pattern until we’re dragging so much guilt behind us where ever we go.  What a burden.  What a waste of time and energy.  It wastes our time because we spend time thinking out it, and worrying about it, and what does it accomplish?  Nothing.  We expend all this effort, trying to sort it out in our heads to make sense of it and get some sort of closure so we can move on from it, but yet it never happens.  This is not the way I want to live anymore.

“Perfection involves growing.  I’ve not arrived but thank God I’m on my way… So stop thinking about what you’re not, and think about the progress you’re making.”  This could probably be applied to everyone.  We all spend time thinking about what we’re not.  A little of this is a good thing, because self-awareness is important if we ever expect to grow – we need to first know where we are and what we are and what we are not.  Its only when we dwell on this and acquire guilt from this that leads us to problems.  So instead, think about the progress you’re making.  Think of where you were a year ago – are you in the same place?  Some of us may be tempted to answer yes – I still live in the same town, I’m still at the same job, I still live with my parents, I’m still the same person.  But if you look harder, you will probably see that you’ve grown.  Well, I did learn a few new skills.  And I’m more compassionate now than I was then.  Being in the same place on the outside is not the same as being in the same place on the inside.

After reading Romans 6:10-11, Joyce says that we should put aside our lists of what we think we are and aren’t allowed to do – ie that which we fear God will get angry with us for doing – and that the closer you are to God, the more you’re going to instinctively know what is right and what is wrong, and, the more strength He will give you to do the right thing.  This, she says, is how to be victorious over sin.  So basically, don’t dwell on sin itself but rather live a holy life through God, thus getting the strength to overcome sin in the first place.  And you will grow.

When Joyce was living in guilt, she not only worried about her past but also what sins she might keep doing.  I really related to that because I have a lot of fear about potential future mistakes I might make.  I feel like I for some reason wont be in control of myself later in my life.  Like somehow I’ll make a decision I know I shouldn’t make, yet I wont be able to help myself when the time comes.  I don’t know.  Its not a very rational fear, but then, most fears are irrational.

Here are some of my favorite lines and concepts from part 2:

“When we go to God in prayer, we don’t go in our name, we go in Jesus’ name.”

Pray confidently, fearlessly, and boldly in your time of need.

The Bible says that we shouldn’t sin, but that just in case we do, Jesus has covered it.

To Paul: “You need some of my tapes.”  LOL.

And again she reminded me that God wanted to form a relationship with me despite already knowing everything about me.  Which is always encouraging to hear.

What did you think of this two part video?  In what ways have you grown in the last year?  In the last 5 years?

Joyce Meyer – Leaving the City of Guilt, Part I

This video was immediately appealing to me because I often find myself feeling guilty, which is often accompanied by depression.  Its not that I’ve done anything particularly horrible –  I just feel really, really badly whenever I do something even remotely horrible.  And I don’t let myself forget it.  It keeps coming back.  This is due in large part to the fact that I don’t control my thoughts (something that I’ve been researching more lately and trying to work on, as I think it is one of the biggest benefits I can give myself right now.)

I don’t know much about Christianity and have never been a religious person, but there is something undeniably appealing to me about Christians and their faith.  In the last 6 months or so I have been researching Christianity and reading blogs and articles by Christians, especially women.  I like what I read but there is so much more to learn.  I’m currently reading the Bible (do you know how big that thing is?!) and I’m following Joyce Meyer on twitter which is how I found this video today.

For me, my guilt isn’t so much because I feel I’ve disappointed God; its more that I’ve disappointed myself.  Or my parents.  (Which feeling is worse?  I couldn’t tell you.)  But I still found tremendous benefit in this video with respect to guilt, and also just to learning more about God and the Bible.

“God is not the least bit surprised by you or your behavior…  He knew everything about you when he invited you to come into a relationship with Him.”  This thought is comforting because having a relationship with God seems like a big deal and like something that should be earned or deserved.  And if we aren’t perfect (but who is?) then we can feel like we’re a disappointment to Him or not worthy of a connection.  I’m not sure if that’s how I feel or not, quite honestly, but it’s nice to know that He already knows everything about me, because in that is a sense of acceptance.  Because He knows me, and yet still chose to form a relationship with me, He must accept who I am and what I’ve done and where I’ve come from.

Joyce points out that if we keep the burden of guilt, we have no energy to learn and grow and serve God.  Now, even for those who aren’t religious, this can apply.  We have no energy to grow and learn, and do what we should be doing (whether its serving God or serving yourself or serving others).  The feeling of guilt holds us back from living our lives and accomplishing goals and experiencing joy.

Joyce goes on to share a humorous story about going on a “guilt trip”, which is a pretty universal experience.  The author went on this trip knowing it wouldn’t do any good.  How many of us actually think feeling guilt will do some good in our lives?  Yet does that stop us from doing it?

“Jesus has done everything for us that he’s gunna do – he’s waiting for us to believe it.”  This line really spoke to me because it made me realize that I’m waiting on something more to happen before I cement my feelings on Christianity.  What am I waiting for?  Jesus has already done all that he’s going to do.  And yes, there is much more of the Bible that I can read, and I can continue to form opinions as I do so.  But this line really calls people to action, which I love.  There comes a time – and the time is now – to make the decision to change your life.  The Bible is right there. If you want to go with it and change your life in that way because it will bring you positivity, then what are you waiting for?  If you want to go in a different direction, then what are you waiting for?  The point is, pick something and take action.  Stop wasting your time feeling guilty or doing whatever else it is that’s holding you back from being awesome.  Fear?  Fear of failure or rejection?  If its depression, that can be hard to kick.  But fear can be just as hard to kick.

“Guilt enters as a thought, creates a feeling, and we live by that feeling… If you’re smart you’ll say, ‘I don’t care how I feel, this is what I know’.”  That right there is the key, I think.  Right now I am letting myself be controlled by my feelings.  I need to change what I know so that I can have something better to stick with instead of getting stuck in a bad mood when negative thoughts come up.  And that is why I need to finish reading the Bible.  Hopefully it will have some answers for me :).

I also liked the point about asking and receiving forgiveness.  It’s easy to ask for it, but the real strength in that kind of prayer comes from trusting God enough to actually receive His forgiveness.  Because in that, you are completely letting go.

Note: This video was part 1 of a 4 part series.  Look forward to her other videos on fear, insecurity, and worry – which I plan to watch and write about soon.

Now, here’s some non-Christian-related words that I feel convey the same message to stop holding yourself back with guilt:

Believe in yourself.

Ready.  Fire.  Aim.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.

The only thing that makes it a part of your life is that you keep thinking about it.

*A few of those came from the pins I have collected on pinterest – feel free to check them out and many, many more that relate to this very subject.  And please share in the comments some of your most inspiring!

Twitter Wisdom

I am following some really interesting people on twitter.

Backpackers, digital nomads, businesses owners, celebrities, dogs, and of course my own friends and acquaintances.  Twitter is probably one of my top sources for information now – and yes, some of that “information” is a picture of @MissAmyChilds in a dress or @Bentleythegrey taking a nap.  But a lot of it is not only informative, but also educational and beneficial to my life:

@AlexIkonn posted this article by Tim Ferriss called Reinventing the Office: How to Lose Weight and Increase Productivity At Work

And I learned from it that even if I start exercising regularly (as I have been for the last 3 days) the fact that I still sit for more than 6 hours daily makes me more likely to have heart disease than someone who sits less than 3 hours a day and gets no exercise.  Great.  A little tempted to freak out.

But I also read this article and this article and have since concluded that I shouldn’t be worried.  I move around quite a bit during the day, even though I am usually sitting.  And, I rarely sit for 6 hours in a row without getting up, which seems to be their main area for concern.

So it seems the idea here is two-fold: 1) be aware of how much time you spend sitting, and 2) balance is key.  Even though they say that exercise alone is not the antidote for sitting, the point is to sit and move intermittently, and that will at least help you more than a solid 6 hours of sitting followed by a solid hour at the gym.

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Another thing that caught my eye in that article was these shoes, which I started to check out but haven’t done enough research to form an opinion on them yet.

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My friend Olivia shared this, Is Independence the Key to Happiness?

One line stood out: “Everyone has a unique definition of themselves, so it makes sense that every person needs to follow her own path to a full life.”

Even though I’m still learning and most definitely don’t have everything figured out, I often find myself judging other people’s lives and assuming I know what’s best for them.  Sometimes I act on this and give my two cents, but other times I just silently wish that they’d find a different (ie better) path.

But who am I to judge that?  “Everyone has a unique definition of themselves” – meaning a different definition than the one I have for them.  Who’s definition is more likely to be right?

“So it makes sense that every person needs to follow [their] own path to a full life.”  I know that if I spent my life doing what other people wanted instead of what I wanted, I would not be happy.  (Remind me to tell you sometime about my experience in college.)

Reading that quote has most definitely given me a new perspective and will most definitely make me question the next time I feel high and mighty enough to judge someone else’s life choices.

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And here’s a great quote from @IrishPolyglot:
The difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is how high you raise your foot.

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Something not found on twitter:

From the book White Space is Not Your Enemy, I learned that “people read words, not letters” and that typing in all caps makes the words lose their shapes, and thus they aren’t as easily readable.  If you’re typing something in all caps in an attempt to communicate your point more strongly, think again.