Kindness is often its own reward

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Last week I was inspired by the profound difference between being “Nice” and  being “Kind”. I then also realized that it had been “National Kindness Day” the prior day  and I stumbled upon the following quote from William John Bennett which summed up my thoughts. “A kind and compassionate act is often its own reward.”

It is always special when someone close to you amazes you with their kindness, and it is infinitely more special when that person is your 9 year old daughter. As a parent, it is our job to teach our children to be nice and polite and respectful, but teaching them kindness is much more difficult. Kindness comes from a place inside us where we know that the feeling we get from our kind action IS our reward, we need nothing else.

As a parent, bribery is a somewhat common tactic, especially when traveling…and even more especially when traveling for a family funeral as we were last weekend. There were lots of conversations about behaving nicely, politely, respectively and the rewards they might potentially receive for that. But, being kind…the genuine compassion for someone else over themselves, that can only come from them. There is no bribe that can make that happen.

I watched my daughter be very compassionate with her grandmother (who had just lost her mother) and it truly touched me. She sat with her, silently held her hand and hugged her when she cried. Not because we asked her to, instead it genuinely came from inside her.

I definitely felt that I was being “Nice” by trudging my family across the country at a moments notice to attend my husband’s grandmother’s funeral… I was doing the right thing because  I learned growing up what the right thing was. My daughter was truly being “Kind”.  I saw the clear difference that day.

So, on our mats last week we strived to be “Kind”. I told my students there is nothing wrong with “Nice”.  Physically showing up on your yoga mat is “Nice”. I am by no means snubbing “Nice”. Nice is really important. But “Kindness” is its own reward and since Yoga is a selfish practice…why wouldn’t we strive for that?

As we moved through practice, I offered ways to go from “Nice” to “Kind”…the Breath can do that. With focus on the breath, the mind clears, the body releases and there IS the kindness. I reminded my students as we surrendered into Pigeon Pose that being in the pose was surely “nice” for the hips, going deeper and releasing whatever may be stored there emotionally was a truly “kind” act. And as we nurtured and found kindness FROM ourselves and FOR ourselves, we prepared to bring that kindness with us off the mat..to continue to receive those rewards.

Sometimes it takes seeing the kindness of someone else to remind us of the opportunity that exists inside us, even if that someone is only 9. Sometimes by cultivating kindness for ourselves, we find we have more than enough to share. However we get there, I wish for us all many Kind Acts to Give and many Rewards to Receive. Namaste.

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