I’ve written recently about utilizing our senses to become aware of the goodness and fullness of the world that’s before us; one in which there is enough to go around for everyone regardless of race, religion, color, or anything else. And we’ve struggled to identify ways in which we can find happiness. Now we must learn to tear down the flags of US and THEM that are being waved in our faces.
Remember: happiness is an additive process. By giving to others, assisting other people in their life’s journey, I enrich my own and even more important, those close to me – my family and friends. Setting a good example and tone by how I act with others has a ripple effect. Removing bitterness and hate from my own person lightens the burden of carrying around a heavy backpack filled with bricks of animosity and resentment towards others. It’s time to dump those bricks!
Research has shown that it takes many more muscles to keep a frown fixed on your face than to relax and smile. Smile and the tension around your eyes is released and the furrows on your brow disappear – you’ll end up looking ten years younger. Appeal to your own vanity – look better, feel better, and make the world a better place for all – start smiling and stop hating.
Looking at it another way, I’m suggesting that we all strive for a kinder heart, one that’s inclusive and understanding of others. Ideally, keeping that kind heart beating 24 x 7 would be ideal. Realistically, few of us are saints. But we all have the capacity to think before we act. We have the ability to change what we do and how we do it.
We must remember that we define ourselves in the very moment we act. Just because we hurt someone yesterday doesn’t mean that we have to hurt them today. If I tossed a cigarette butt out of my car window last week or discarded a candy wrapper carelessly when I was out for a walk yesterday doesn’t mean I should continue to do so tomorrow.
Even more so when I’ve been mean or prejudicial in my behavior. Babies learn to walk the hard way – they trip, stumble, and skin knees – but eventually, they walk upright like human beings. Yes, we still trip and fall. It’s not a big deal – we get up, wipe our hands, salvage our pride and continue. But some of the obstacles that cause us to fall are the prejudices and hates that we carry around. Maybe we didn’t see them because that’s the way our family and friends act. “The others, they ain’t like us. Who gives a shit what happens to them?” That’s a truckload of bricks. It’s time to dump them!
Consider for a moment: other people are not too different from you. Yeh, the skin color may be different, or they speak a different language or have an accent. Or perhaps the place where they worship has a different shaped roof. Maybe they dress differently. But just like you, they’d like a decent meal, a roof over their heads for themselves and their families. Sound health and peace and happiness too. It’s not a big surprise when you think about it.
I don’t know how I’ll get there. I can be as grumpy as the next guy. I don’t have easy answers. I stumble like everyone. But I do try to remember to breathe and open my heart. And when I can, I continue to commit random acts of kindness.
I pray that we all find our way to a kind heart.
Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday and Peaceful New Year!
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.