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December 2018

This Could Be What Matters Most

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One thing I've been noticing as I've been out and about, an uptick if you will: People are kinder. 

And, interestingly I'm not the only one in my circle noticing this. More than a few have mentioned it in some form as well. This, while so much divisiveness permeates the air around us. A swell is taking place. A swell of kindness.

A kind word in the elevator. People taking their time to lend a hand. Or, waiting patiently in line while encouraging someone else to go first, whether it's at a restaurant or in traffic. And, it's not just words, but kinder expressions, kinder eyes. Simple smiles.

There's a subtle, larger effort being expressed. A yearning for a gentler nature being embodied. 

Whatever it's been, it's been palpable. Have you noticed it?

And, #KindnessMatters.

In fact, if you Google that particular hashtag, #KindnessMatters, there's a lovely slew of initiatives and websites trumpeting the power and longevity of kindness. There were 463,000 results in .58 seconds. Some offer 30-day challenges, others inspiring stories, still others longterm initiatives with real, positive effects, changes made, lives improved.. 

It could be what matters most. Kindness. 

It may seem trite to say this, but it gives me hope. And, it raises a bigger hope that people can and will settle into their natural states of being, that of soulful, loving, yearning creatures. Maybe a bit of a pipe dream, but there's a swell that I think is worth noting, and celebrating.

Kindness provides a much needed and solid footing, a foundation from which to meet and greet the less-than-kind assaults that seem to drag down the ether, to stench the air we, at times, feel forced to breathe. 

Kindness is the air freshener. 

Kindness is the helium that will raise the otherwise heavy, negative energies; that will raise the ether, the very consciousness of society.

Kindness is love, understanding and compassion in action.

One might think of being kind as being a pushover. I would posit it's just the opposite. Kindness is a force, an essence and intention that elevates the conversation, the negotiation, the deal. 

Kindness weeds out the petty, frankly eating the petty for lunch along with a nice, crisp Rosé or meaty Cab. I jest, but the phrase, "kill them with kindness" does come to mind. The term "kill them with kindness" sparks back to the 1500's, when it referred to a mother ape who hugged her babies so hard she, well, killed them. Okay, let's not go there.

Miriam defines this phrase as "to cause discomfort to someone by treating him or her in a way that is extremely kind or helpful. Instead of returning the insult, you might try killing them with kindness."

Contemporary useful applications of this notion suggest this: Utilize kindness as a tool to diminish or diffuse (kill) the negativity, rudeness, pettiness or hate of the situation. So that eventually, the person(s) has the choice to align with the kindness, that which is innate within his or herself. A choice to situate with their own better angels. If they don't make that choice, then you have the choice to deal with it or move on.

Kindness in its authenticity, is true power.

Kindness is a choice. While it's true some people seem to have more of an easy kindness about them, we all have it in us, and we all can make the choice to be kind. 

I recently saw the musical, "Come From Away," set in the week following 9/11. It tells the true story of what happened when 38 planes were ordered to land outside the small Newfoundland town of Gander. 7,000 scared and confused passengers descended on the town. "Cultures clashed and tensions were high," but the townspeople took on the arduous task of caring for them, figuring it out as they went along. What rose like heat from this story was the magnitude of kindness that bolstered them all. The depth of their humanity brought us all to tears. 

Kindness. Kindness transcends labels. And, titles. And, status. It is an equalizer, second to none. 

Kindness is contagious and spreads like wildfire.

That's why I'm thinking kindness could be what matters most. So, perhaps a leading question to ask ourselves whenever we have any type of interaction: how would kindness begin this? Or respond?

Or simply utter the mantra #KindnessMatters. It really kinda does. 

Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash


Flip the Switch To Reveal the 2019 Word of the Year

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There's quite a bit that goes into choosing a word for the year. Inspiration, feeling the need to improve on something or selecting a greater theme that will help to powerfully guide the next twelve months, are all factors that weigh in while narrowing down the word. I find it enthralling, particularly since it becomes a writing guidepost as well. 

My word for 2019: Mindfulness

I tossed around several words, and what I found is that underneath each of the intentional words I was drawn to, was the running current of mindfulness. In other words to successfully embody anything empowering, one must be mindful to attain it.  

Mindfulness is a word that is loaded and is bandied about a lot. So, let's unpack it.

Often, for me, being mindful is what I think of after I do something that is usually a result of not being mindful. Such as when I grabbed a banana instead of my keys as I walked out my front door. It wasn't until after I locked myself out of the house and noticed the banana in my hand that I said, "Cindy! Pay attention. You need to be more mindful." Or after I tripped and twisted my ankle because I wasn't being mindful about my footing. Or when I've inhaled my meal, not really tasting it. 

So, my intention by picking Mindfulness as my 2019 word, is to being mindful as a forethought rather than an afterthought. Like buying insurance before you need it, rather than regretting not having purchased it when you realize you're unfortunately caught without it.

What does it mean to be mindful? To my way of thinking, it's being fully present and engaged, while making a thought or action that serves the moment's highest good. And, then doing it again and again.

Mindfulness and meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn says, "Mindfulness is presence of heart." Mindfulness symbol

He illustrates this with the Chinese symbol for mindfulness. The top symbol means presence and the lower symbol means heart. Presence of heart.

Flip the Switch 

Kabat-Zinn describes mindfulness as turning off the automatic pilot. Continually returning to the present. I like that. It's a simple switch. It's not a constant "on" switch. In other words you don't stay in a state of mindfulness. You return to a state of mindfulness.

Kind of takes the pressure off, don't you think? The invitation is always there to be in mindfulness, we just have to flip the switch in the moment. 

It's also defined as “The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”

There are certain attitudes and self-regulating indicators present when one is mindful. That of being open, curious and accepting.

Mindful.org is a wonderful place to be reminded and inspired. They say “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Mindfulness solidifies strong character by causing us to slow down and think before speaking and acting. 

Mindfulness fosters creativity by weeding out the superfluous and extraneous clutter.

In his book, "The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation," Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Many people are alive but don't touch the miracle of being alive... Mindfulness is like that—it is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.” 

He also says, “Mindfulness shows us what is happening in our bodies, our emotions, our minds, and in the world. Through mindfulness, we avoid harming ourselves and others.” 

Mindfulness generates kindness. Kindness was going to be my word of the year, and then I realized that kindness is an essence and expression that is also generated from mindfulness. So, I played with that a bit and expanded my platform. While mindfulness is the word of the year, kindness is the theme. I intend to infuse everything with kindness and to recognize and celebrate kindness in others. Mindfully, of course.

Which led to a rather delicious portmanteau, and the name of my 2019 platform: Kindfulness. The state of mindfully being kind, being fully present in the act of kindness. 

So, I pledge to be mindful, return to mindfulness, about, well everything. Such as:

Start the day mindfully by meditating, journaling.

Make mindful choices that stem from kindness to self, to the group think and to the greater good.

Engage in mindful thought, actions and conversations.

Eat mindfully.

Be mindful in my to-do lists, keeping them clutter-free and on purpose.

I'm already noticing mindfulness and kindness - kindfulness - at work in my daily life. I'm leaning in to wherever this takes me.

What's your word or theme for 2019? My wish for you is a mindful exploration for one that feeds your soul and elevates your year. 

Title Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash