Time to Look in the Mirror

 

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Photo by TJ Parker

We see what we want to see.  That’s part of the problem.

I was perusing Facebook, which I must say prompts many posts on this blog, and I saw a theme.  Negativity.  Plain and simple.

There were posts about “those” people.  Of one sort of another.  You know them, the idiots, the ridiculous, the terrible, the stupid, the crazy, the deluded, the poor things… them.   They seem to be everywhere, “these” people.  They must be.  Everyone is talking about them.

Then it hit me.

We are a beautiful lot, humanity.  A tapestry like no other.  Preferences, likes and dislikes, and ways of being in the world that differ from each other.  We are sad or happy, diet coke or Pepsi, Chevy or Ford, Republican or Democrat,  dressing on the side or on the salad, rural or city,  cream or taking it black, gay or straight, married or single, serious or silly, tomAto or tomato, and on and on and on.  We love our families the best way we know how, we want the best for our kids or grandkids, we want to earn a decent living, take vacations, laugh a lot, and we want the right to live peacefully, with joy.  Each and every one of us.

But it’s not that simple.  Because what I noticed today, as I was perusing, was that people see what they want to see.  They notice what they want to notice.  I bet they don’t even know they’re doing it.  We seize on information, posts, articles, videos, that speak to us.  Things that in some way support our world view.  There’s probably a theme to how we post, what we post, etc., only we don’t even know it.

We need to pay attention.  To ourselves.  Instead of looking out at what that idiot said or didn’t say, which by the way, in and of itself, that language on its own, is wrong.  I would hope no one would put me in a class of “those idiots”, just because I happen to align myself with a certain ideology.  But they do.  Friends have posted many things about liberals being idiots or crazy or wrong or disturbed or… it goes on.  I’m shocked by it, every time.  Just as I’m sure some of my more conservative friends feel shocked or hurt when a liberal friend of theirs posts something about those idiotic conservatives.  Let’s be honest… none of us are idiotic.  We just don’t agree with each other.  That doesn’t make me an idiot, it just makes a person with a different opinion.

But I digress.   This doesn’t just apply to politics.  I noticed it applies to many things… the videos people choose to post, the things they choose to put out into the world under their own names…. it’s interesting.  Are you a person who posts things that are generally positive, generally informative, upbeat, things that speak to beauty and light and love.  I’ve seen those people, and honestly, I hope I’m one of them.  Or are you someone who sees the dark and the crazy and the wrong in everything and then feels the need to put it out there?  And if so, why? So others like you can agree how bad everything is, or so that you can enlighten those of us who may be Pollyannas who try to look for the good?  I’m not being rhetorical.  I really want to know.

There are people who feel the need to fight everything, against life and what they see as wrongdoing.  I get trying to fight for what you think is right.  I get speaking your mind and your truth.  What I don’t get is a person coming across some debasing or derogatory or hurtful thing and re-posting it.  What’s the purpose of spreading that kind of negativity?  If you have strong opinions, if you feel things are wrong in the world and need fixing, find what you think are some solutions, speak to issues from the place of problem-solving, not finger-pointing.  Re-posting terrible things, some not even based on truth, just for the sake of talking bad about someone or something, is wrong.  You aren’t shining a light on them, you’re shining a terrible light on yourself.

We need to look at ourselves.  Decide if we want to be people who create solutions, who seek a more beautiful world for all of us, or are we people who debase, make fun of, and act from fear.  Who do we want to be?  How do we want to live?  What do we want to be putting out there into the world?  What do we want to be teaching our kids about how to be in the world?  Hurtful to others, or uplifting to others.  It’s up to us.

Look in a mirror.  Look at your personal news feeds.  Look at everything you’ve posted in the last year and judge for yourself.  What kind of person are you?  Are you happy with that?  If not.  Change.  Let’s lift people up.  Let’s inspire with kindness and goodness and love. Let’s try to speak from joy.  From positivity.  From a place of understanding, humility, and love.

I know there are things wrong in the world.  I know there are things that need to be changed.  One of those things is people calling other people idiots or other derogatory names.  One of those things is people being hurtful just, it seems, to be hurtful.  Let’s start being, and communicating, like intelligent humans.  After all, we are.  Sometimes I think we just forget ourselves.  Get swept up.  Let’s be better.  Let’s look with better eyes and hearts at a world that is a beautiful, wondrous place.  Let’s talk about that.

Candy Coated Kindness

candy-caneWe were out and about again today, running more errands, getting ready for some upcoming Christmas festivities.  Since we were going out we thought today would be a good day for the candy cane caper.  Sounds more adventurous or slightly naughty than it was, but it ended up being pretty nice.  We’d purchased a box of big sized candy canes a while back in preparation and today we took them around and passed them out to people, saying Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, giving people a smile as we did.  Librarians, people sitting at a cafe, the ladies who work at the coffee roasters we go to, a couple of policemen, and a girl sitting outside waiting for a ride were all recipients.  My honey is really good at this.  Her smile can light up a room.  Every single person who got a candy cane smiled back at us.  We gave a few of the people two candy canes telling them one was for them and one was for them to hand out to someone else.  A sweet bit of shared kindness.

Kindness Hits You Where You Live

Today might have been the most simple act of kindness we’ve done to date.  We were kind to each other.  We slept in, laughed, talked, shopped, did laundry, cooked, did dishes, drank our nightly decaf, held hands, showed each other cool photos online, took the pups for a nice walk, problem solved a couple of things, said I love you and thanks honey a few times, and had a pretty quiet day together.  It’s important to be aware of your spouse, to be kind to them.  We do a pretty good job of that most of the time, but it’s good to talk about it, good to be present with it.  It’s a form of kindness that’s not talked about enough.  It’s great and important to be kind to others, but it’s equally important, if not more so, to be kind to the people you are closest to, people who you share your life with.  

Keeping The Cold at Bay With Kindness

hand-warmersWe found a big package of handwarmers at the bottom of our hat/scarf bin in our closet. At some point we bought them in bulk. Each little package is a pack of two handwarmers. It’s very cold out today so our act of kindness was to drive around our towns, both Champaign and Urbana, for a couple of hours handing out packs of handwarmers to people at bus stops and other people just walking around who looked really cold. We would pull up and K would roll down her window or jump out and offer up a package of handwarmers to the person. Some took them, others didn’t. One guy said he didn’t need them because he had socks on his hands. K tried to convince him socks weren’t warm enough. He smiled, laughed a little, and still refused. We gave that pack to the next cold looking person we saw. Even the people who refused them smiled at us. The people that took them were very grateful. Small kindnesses mean something.

Notes of Kindness

notesWe go to the library a lot.  I’m a huge fan.  All sorts of people use the libary, which is one of the things that makes it so awesome.  It’s an amazing resource.  One of the things we thought we would do as we go forward with this whole kindness adventure was to write out a bunch of positive notes on post-its and randomly place them around for people to find.  Since we go to the library a lot, and since there are all sorts of people there, we thought it would be a good place to put the notes.  Today was the day.  We note-bombed the library.  I don’t know how many notes we made up, there were a lot of them.  We each took part of the pack of them and snuck around putting them in places like seats, and on the copier, and on a book I was returning, and in the elevators.  We put them all over. They all said different things, like “you have a beautiful smile” or “you are braver than you know” or “you are loved”.  It was so much fun.  Everyone loves hearing something nice. We hope there will be a few extra smiles today at the library.

Smiling With Kindness

handsWe decided, really since we started this whole adventure, but today especially, that we would be mindful of being outwardly open, friendly, chatty, interested, and kind toward whoever we came in contact with.  In all actuality, we are like this for the most part, in our daily lives, but it puts an extra special twist on it when you do it mindfully.  So today, as we ran some errands, we made sure to look people in the eyes, smile at them, be silly, chat, make conversation, shake hands if it was possible.  We ended up getting a lot of smiles in return.  Again, sometimes it’s the smaller things that make all the difference in life.  A smile costs nothing.  Interest in other people as humans costs nothing.  Being a tad silly, and chatty, costs nothing.  And all of those things together show a kindness, an openness, toward other people, which might just make them feel more kind and open as they go through the rest of their day.  Maybe it starts a wave of kindness.  And if not, smiling at people generally gets them to smile back.  It’s worth it.

Postmarked With Kindness

fullsizerenderToday’s act of kindness involved sending a few notes to a few people we were thinking of and just wanted to say hello to.  Getting mail is cool.  It makes people smile.  Let’s them know you were thinking of them.  Mail is kind.  Send mail.