Long meditation on kindness

Do all the good you can,  .
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.
              -John Wesley’s rule

Seems like a good idea to me! I just finished reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It is a meditation on kindness.

I have been confronted lately by people whose lives are vastly different from my own. I think I have been open and interested, I have certainly felt that way. I realized a while back that I will be meeting people from all walks of life as I work as a nurse, and I need to be professional and kind to all of them. Like everyone else, I have my beliefs and biases. As a nurse, I will be seeing people who are hurt and scared – not two of the things guaranteed to bring out a person’s best side. Add to that cultural, economic, religious, etc. differences, and it would be easy to fall into the trap of judging people by my own standards. That helps no one.  I am going to need to remember that each person that I see is a human. Each has their own story and challenges, and I am there to help them through at least one thing.

If I can help people with simple kindness, it seems like such a small thing to do. I will do my job well and I will do my best to treat everyone I come in contact with, kindly.  After all, it’s not just the patients who deserve respect and kindness, it is their families and my co-workers as well. We all just want to get through the day and come out the other side feeling ok about ourselves and what we’ve done.

I feel like I have become even more of a goodie-two-shoes as I’ve gotten older. In reality I’ve come to realize that no one is perfect. We all struggle with our personal demons. I don’t want to be someone who adds to that for people. My mother raised me to be nice. That’s what you do with girls, you raise them to be nice and pleasant and non-confrontational. Well, it worked on me. I am all of those things. I used to want to be rougher and more confrontational and saw nice as a weakness. Now, however, I’m realizing that you can be nice without being a weakling.  I can be kind to people without letting them use me. There is a certain strength in being the strength that others sometimes lack. A shoulder to cry on or a willing and open heart to listen with.

The people that I’ve met recently whose lives are so very different are nice people. They just have circumstances that they didn’t necessarily choose. And some that they did and they are happy with which aren’t choices that I would have made. I find that I am much more able to listen to their concerns without judgment these days than I ever would have been before. Compassion and kindness and just the sheer act of being nice to someone can sometimes be all that’s needed.

My mother always told me to take my kids’ problems seriously, no matter how silly they may sound to me. To them, their problems are every bit as important as an overdue bill or someting like that is to me. And, really, when you think about it, the first time a friend betrays you in your young life, it may well actually be the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. Just because it’s happened to me more than once in my almost 40 years, doesn’t mean that it is not completely devastating to them this first time. Their wonderful little world just fell apart. The same holds true for the problems of anyone. I have heard things that made my hair stand on end but for the person involved, it was just the turn their life has taken and now they need to figure out where to go next. My job at that point isn’t to judge them and their problem, it is to give them the best help I can, be it an available ear, or advice, or whatever.

Kindness, compassion, and just plain old being nice, are strong medicines sometimes.

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