How to hug a Lion

There are a few people you are attracted to for reasons having nothing to do with beauty. It’s the kind of attraction where you love someone without having the need to be loved back. We all try to become that loveable person at some point. But, we all fall short. Since that’s a discouraging note to start on, let’s assume we all have what it takes to get to that elusively attractive quality known as: Kindness.

Our attempt at kindness largely depends on how much kindness the world gives back to us. It’s not uncommon to hear your kind friend occasionally stomp her foot on the floor and yell, “I am tired of being nice. Screw the world.” Our attempt at kindness falls short because it’s like racing to a finish on a treadmill. The people that have this ability innate enjoy being on the treadmill. For most of us, it’s just another vain attempt at perfection and in the process, being rather unkind to ourselves. The reason kindness is a hard virtue to cultivate is that it is also one of the easiest to give up. It’s never too hard to go back to being a jerk. In fact, a part of being a jerk even feels good.

And that’s where we get kindness wrong. We think being kind entitles us to being a jerk. Because we think kindness is turning your other cheek when slapped, and who wants to do that! Hence: if you aren’t a complete moron occasionally, the world will thrash you into cheeky redness. Kindness comes with a breaking point and for some of us, that point is entirely determined by the environment around us. That’s the reason you often hear generalizations around how people from a particular place are arrogant/kind.

But, as much as your environment influences you, you are kind not because you want to make the other person feel good or change an entire population. You are kind because, when you are, it makes you feel that everything around is somehow much better than it already is. There will be people that will feel the world constantly sucks – and in your path toward kindness, you will meet these people. Sometimes, you will become that person. When that happens, you don’t throw your hands up in the air and go, “screw the world. Everyone sucks. Where’s the cheese popcorn?

Because here’s the most important demarcation to draw about kindness we need to understand as we treadmill away. If you are being kind expecting others to be kind to you, what you are being is a people pleaser.

We are inching toward a time when intelligence is prized above all else. No one seems to give a flying penguin about kindness. So, it’s natural to not even make an attempt or worse, try and then give up: because there’s no point; because your boss is a lunatic; because it makes you feel weak; because you love cheese popcorn too much.

There’s a quote about how there being no way to happiness, but happiness being the way.  I don’t know if kindness is the way. But, the next time you wonder what’s the point of being kind, maybe the happiness analogy can help. There is no point in being kind; kindness is the point. Just ask the Lion.

2 thoughts on “How to hug a Lion

  1. Very good. Great examples. I really get this without having to be a mystic. You know I have to steal your treadmill example!
    I am now in my life working on the concept of forgiveness. It is a huge and simple concept and it has not yet distilled into a usable and natural process. Of course, you owe me nothing and I would love to read your thoughts about forgiveness.

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