Each one of us yearns to be treated kindly. We long to be validated, respected, and cherished. It is an innate human need to feel loved, yet it is also a natural human tendency to be unkind, selfish, and rude, especially when we feel threatened, tired, or frustrated.
In 2007, Rev. Will Bowen of Christ’ Church in Missouri challenged his congregation to go 21 days without complaining. He passed out purple wristbands and urged his followers to wear them. If they griped, gossiped, or criticized someone, they were asked to move the wristband to the other arm. Rev. Bowen confessed that it took him almost four months before the wristband remained on his right arm every single day. The movement has caught hold, and Rev. Bowen has received requests for over 6,200,000 wristbands, which have been processed on his Web site, www.acomplaintfreeworld.org.
Imagine living in a world in which people spoke with kindness and love to everyone. Imagine homes, businesses, institutions, communities, and countries where people speak with courtesy and respect to everyone—even those who are difficult to love. Experts say that one person who is kind influences the lives of hundreds of others for good. Imagine the rippling effect of one percent of the world’s population practicing radical kindness.
Everyone you meet carries a heavy burden—or will someday. People struggle with health challenges, financial pressures, insecurity, loss, and thousands of other challenges. Everyone deserves kindness—including ourselves.
I have discovered that when I am critical and condemning of myself, I tend to be more critical of others. As we show kindness to ourselves, we experience greater peace of mind and can then radiate that peace to others. Peace, the highest form of joy, is contagious.
We cannot change other people, but through loving kindness, we can inspire others to be a little kinder, to do a little better. I love this statement by Stephan Grellet, “I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
© Carol Brown