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Kindness in Daily Living

As with last week, we have another new guest writer. This time, Lori Deschene tells us how she applies Buddhist ideals to her everyday life. If you would like to do a guest article, drop me a note at brian@dailybuddhism.com with your topic idea, and I’ll contact you with a few easy requirements.


Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene

Kindness in Daily Living

At my big, fat Italian Christmas gathering two family members got in a fight that ended with screams and tears. Though it doesn’t happen often nowadays, I grew up around similar chaos. Oftentimes I drowned it out, but sometimes I fueled it, and other times I caused it. Then I discovered a few Buddhist principles that changed the way I acted and reacted. I learned to offer compassion instead of judgment;to diffuse hostility with understanding and kindness. When I saw how profoundly that affected my state of mind and everyone around me, I decided to practice and get better at it.

That, I believe, is the core of Buddhism: clearing your mind of fears, selfishness, and anger so love can work its magic. And it truly does take practice. It starts with meditation or yoga. They’re like mental maintenance; you stop your persistent internal monologue and find a sense of stillness. From that place of just being;instead of seeing the world around you with a critical eye;you can respond to people with loving-kindness, also known as ‚Äúlove without attachment.‚Äù That’s selfless love. And its effects are addictive.

So how do you practice in daily life? I take it off the yoga mat in four steps:

1. Commit to at least three random acts of kindness every day. Maybe it’s something simple, like telling someone they’re great at their job. Or perhaps it requires more effort, like helping an elderly woman with bags. Of course there is no limit! Kindness is like a fire;the more you stoke it, the brighter it burns.

2. Work toward kinder thinking. Example: a friend snaps at you for something that’s not your fault. You’re human;at first you might feel annoyed and think she’s being unfair and irrational. Choose a more compassionate thought, like: She’s feeling defensive, and that must be painful. What can I do to help? Kindness in thinking leads to kindness in action.

3. Ruminate on the kind deeds and thoughts of people greater than yourself. Martin Luther King, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa;these leaders inspired millions with their strength, humility, and kindness. We all carry the exact same potential to change lives by being better, stronger, and kinder every day. Even if you inspire just one person, you’ve tapped into your personal power.

4. Remember kindness is contagious and addictive. Many times when you act with kindness it comes back to you. When it doesn’t, you’ll still feel blessed. Positive intentions;and their ripple effect on your self esteem and state of mind;are greater than any validation you could get from someone else.

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”– Dalai Lama

Lori Deschene lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes for Discovery Girls Magazine. Follow her inspirations at http://twitter.com/BeMeaningful

3 comments to Kindness in Daily Living

  • Darci

    Thank you so much for this posting. I am new to Buddhism within the past year, yet have found so much more peace of mind than with any other religion in the past.

  • Hi Darci~

    I feel the same way. I’ve never been a religious person, but I can get on board with a way of being that emphasizes balance, happiness, and kindness.

    Thanks for reading. I wish you all the best in 2009!

    Lori

  • Jami

    An inspiring little assessment by Lori.

    I like the mathmatical approach to kindness and judgemental attitudes. I walked to my park for a run (its at the corner of my Street). On the first day of the new year, I encountered last night bottles of joy-and, destruction. Blood pathed the road, and the walk, though short,had the feel of Gotama’s first leaving of the Palace.

    In the park, I was alone. One old women, in a scarf, looking like a Muslim struggled along. I ran past; she stopped. She was not a Muslim, but an old English lady with the look of fear. Usually, in such places, we say nothing. But I decided to be kind. I said, ‘good afternoon love!’, and I meant it. She breathed heavily. She smiled and said: ‘Happy New Year!’.

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