Is being good the result of nature or nurture? This is a thought that has troubled me all my life even as I spent probably more hours than it would be considered healthy replaying my actions and words in my mind, weighing whether it was the right thing to say or do.
Fifteen years ago I would have loved a definitive answer to good behavior that would have convinced me that those who were good came from what my grandmother would have approvingly called “good families with good homes” and those who did questionable things really knew no better.
Today we know the picture is (as you might expect) more complex: https://goo.gl/mbNdV5. And being kind is something that makes us feel good: https://goo.gl/7QkqaL. From a certain perspective it does actually appear that we are hardwired to be kind: https://goo.gl/yfGQ3o which then raises the question of what happens when we are not? (https://goo.gl/jdgndH). What goes so wrong within us that makes us willing to live with pain and cause pain in others?
What I believe is at work when either kindness or its opposite manifest itself is a willingness to reach out and change the world, working it into the image of the place we’d love to inhabit: https://goo.gl/8AYO7w. Those who choose to be kind: https://goo.gl/BN1IG2 experience the world differently but more than that, their acts, affect those around them, priming them to also experience the world in a different, more positive way: https://goo.gl/3dwjcE.
Those of us who spend time online and interact with other people have probably experienced countless instances of kindness that have varied from simple words of support to more concrete acts of direct help (https://goo.gl/nJaUGx). Those moments do change how we feel and they can even have a deeper, more lasting impact in our life: https://goo.gl/A8mfWO.
Star Trek fans have for so long known the deep, optimistic message of hope that lies at the core of the series that there is even a study that seems to back this up: https://goo.gl/4K5amT and one man’s experiment https://goo.gl/UCpIbK yielded some very surprising and deeply encouraging results.
Those who will bring up the objection of it all being ok in airy-fairy land but the real world with its hardnosed business deals does not operate that way should perhaps read this real-life story from the world of business, before deciding: https://goo.gl/a3VFyR. And for anyone who says “well, being kind is a mood thing” – there is some solid advice to follow: https://goo.gl/JOX9yj.
These days I don’t agonize much (not at all, truth be told) over whether we are born to be kind or are we made this way, because I know that those who are unkind are either hurting badly on the inside (and their pain makes them lash out), are misguided (and at some point they will find their way) or are clinically incapable of being kind (and I truly feel sorry for them). The world, it turns out, is a much better place when what we experience is positive instead of being negative: https://goo.gl/jeGbAW.
Kindness can be taught: https://goo.gl/y7APWJ it can be practiced by anyone: https://goo.gl/Tq8VIt and everyone: https://goo.gl/qsszUa and, as have seen already, it is also good for business: https://goo.gl/iWh3z7. Its presence is transformative: https://goo.gl/UJBnLF. And it is intimately humanizing: https://goo.gl/iu9Mjd. It breaks down barriers of artificial distinctions such as class and status and it dissolves divides such as age and culture (https://goo.gl/i6QliM) and it helps transform a world where billions of entities constantly compete for finite resources in order to survive, into a magical place where people connect with people in the best way possible.
That’s the world we truly want to aspire to a place where in a sense, we are each other’s keepers or as Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted "Theodore" Logan would say a place where we can: “Be excellent to each other … and [can] Party on Dudes!” (https://goo.gl/GLJoJQ).
I hope you have been kind to yourself and did not leave donuts, cookies, croissants and chocolate cake off your shopping list, along with, of course those precious black coffee beans necessary for the perfect river of coffee without which this day just could not happen. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.