In our busy, complicated, modern world we have success and wealth beyond imagination. We have brilliant writers, genius scientists, powerful world leaders, teachers, doctors, philosophers and intellects. Success is everywhere!
But in spite of our accomplishments we are no closer to peace and security than we were 50 years ago.
What is missing?
What's missing in our world today is kindness and compassion to all life beings.
In order to have a peaceful world, we must first establish peace within ourselves.
When we practice kindness, we change for the better -- and so does our world.
Kindness on a basic level is quite easy; if you see someone in a favorable light you naturally want to be kind to them.
But what about those who you don't see favorably:
- Foreign cultures
- Aggressive dogs
Okay -- did I go too far with the mosquitoes?
Are you shaking your head with skepticism? What is the point of being kind to a stranger or an enemy?
Kindness can change your life and change the world.
It is said that The Buddha first taught kindness to a group of monks meditating in the forest. These monks were scared of "spirits" in the forest. Likely just afraid of the dark, their fear turned into anger and their anger turned into hate. Many conflicts arise this way; we mistaken and exaggerate our fear of the unknown.
The frightened monks went to the Buddha and asked for advice. Through meditation and mindfulness, they were taught how to live a life of kindness, they learned to protect others.
The monks went back to the forest with a refreshed outlook. As they practiced the teachings on kindness the forest began to feel safe. They no longer feared "unknown spirits" and with a heart of kindness the creatures and aliveness of the forest became beautiful.
When we are coming from a place of kindness ourselves, we naturally experience kindness from others.
Buddha taught that kindness is the antidote to fear.
Now you may be thinking -- that's great, a group of monks learned kindness, but what does this have to do with me? How will these philosophies help in my everyday practical, modern life?
Kindness will help you, and it all starts with just small change today. So don't fret, you won't need to give your life savings away to a stranger on the street.
When we change, even minimally, we sometimes don't realize the giant effect this has on our entire lives. Our mind work in the exact same way -- if we infuse even a tiny bit of mindfulness, we will be able to transform our mind and our life in an enormous manner.
Start by contemplating what happens if you are constantly grumbling about your enemies or those who annoy you. Peace and happiness will be unreachable and your mind will experience constant agitation. Is your stomach in knots, do you have headaches, insomnia or feel generally agitated and angry?
The sole intent of a mind of anger is to harm. If we do harm, two more enemies will arise and the cycle would repeat until the entire world was our enemy.
When our mind is full of agitation and aggression we become overly sensitive to everything that happens to us. Irritation arises at the slightest provocation.
Your co-worker left the coffee pot empty again -- this is without doubt very annoying, but this petty issue isn't worth the fight that may ensue if you decide to dwell. This angry mind serves no benefit, it only disturbs your relationships with friends, family, co-workers and with whatever it may be that you are trying to accomplish.
If you dwell on other's negative habits you won't get along with many people, we all have faults, big and small. Those who annoy you will increase -- not decrease.
When you look at the world through a lens of kindness, non judgement and compassion, you would see good people. People just like you -- people who want to be happy.
The actions of every living being are motivated by the desire for happiness, even people who do bad things; they don't always know the sickness that inhabits their minds.
Kindness = basic goodness = benefit to the world = benefit to oneself.
Without the kindness of strangers you wouldn't have food on the table or a roof over your head. Don't forget that we are all interdependent. We can't experience anything without each other.
By developing an attitude that you are contributing to the interdependence of all life forms, you will benefit, others will benefit, and ultimately the whole world will benefit.
Lastly, remember that kindness comes in many different forms; we won't all resemble whimsical hippie's, kindness can be painful and assertive. Generosity is not always the answer.
Improve your own kindness: incorporate a meditation habit, practice mindfulness and try to recognize when when negative thoughts invade. Think and speak positively, and remember --everyone is worthy of love and happiness.
Don't underestimate the ripple effect of your actions on the planet. And don't underestimate the boomerang effect your actions will have on your own life; even if not immediately apparent.
Allow kindness to become the natural and spontaneous response to every situation, with this increased ability to respond compassionately, true success will follow.
Tina Williamson is a student of Buddhism, meditation and yoga. She writes about cultivating happiness through mindfulness at her own blog: Barefoot Beginnings. You can also follow her on Facebook or Google+.