Kindness is Contagious.
For the third and final post on the mindfulness and acceptance lecture, I will focus on how to implement mindfulness during difficult times. (See the first two posts here Feel the Pain & Take a Breath). I’m choosing to emphasize the difficult times because that’s when it can be most challenging to be positive and mindful. I’m also going to be super cliche right now and quote Franklin D. Roosevelt who said “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”. I don’t typically throw around inspirational quotes but I believe it applies perfectly to the kind of adversity I’ll be discussing.
Acceptance can sometimes be perceived as a weakness. For instance, if you simply accept that others treat you poorly you would be at risk of being walked all over. However, acceptance in itself is actually a sign of strength. It does not acknowledge that something is good, instead acceptance can reduce the suffering experienced and increase your compassion. If you accept that a certain situation is not what you wanted but recognize that your frustration does not serve the purpose of changing it, then you can release your frustration. When you are in control of your responses and emotions you are able to hold on to your positive mindfulness in the face of suffering. Positivity, perseverance and hope in spite of adversity is true strength in my eyes.
It is guaranteed that we will face adversity of some kind throughout our lives. The question is how will you respond to the adversity? Could you give the adversity a purpose and use it to your advantage? For example, if you face the challenge of a rude and verbally aggressive person. Do you respond similarly or do you use the situation to build your own strengths such as being wise, compassionate, and peaceful? You could tell yourself that they must be very unhappy in their life, they must need more kindness or need a proper outlet for their anger. The goal is to practice these thoughts and choose a mindful response vs. immediate negative emotional reaction. You may be pleasantly surprised that your kindness is contagious.
If you consider how body builders get stronger, they have to challenge their muscles. They must push themselves to lift slightly more weight, do a few more repetitions than the day before and commit to a consistent schedule of training in order to see any results. Therefore, we require similar approaches to build and strengthen our inner qualities of compassion and love. We require many opportunities to encounter adversity and practice our positive mindfulness.
Kindness is contagious!
Lecture attended at Kadampa Meditation Center Florida 8.11.17. Mindfulness for a Busy Life with Gen Demo. https://meditationinsarasota.org/