“We need to foster and nurture such basic good human qualities as warmth, kindness, and compassion. If we can do that, our lives will become meaningful, happier, and more peaceful; we will make a positive contribution to the world around us.”
–His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 2004
If you think that 2016 has felt particularly infused with malice, you’re not alone. In this hyper-digital age, hostility spreads like a virus when people spark conflicts with one another from the safety of their computers. We have developed new words like “troll” specifically to describe a new kind of bully. Even our recent presidential election has been marked by explicit and unprecedented mudslinging. Psychotherapist and philosopher Piero Ferrucci calls this “global cooling.”
As the pace of living grows faster and the impact of new technologies more insistent, communications become hurried and impersonal. The drive for profit overrides the heart. Warmth and genuine presence fade. Now, on its tenth anniversary, Ferrucci’s groundbreaking book, THE POWER OF KINDNESS, is more relevant than ever. Here are three tips on how to combat this global cooling and rediscover the power of kindness:
Each of us is born with empathy—a newborn cries in the presence of other crying babies. With nurturing, empathy becomes the capacity to understand other people’s feelings and points of view, to identify with them. Unfortunately, far too often, we become obsessed with our own oppressive thoughts, worries, and desires. Don’t forget to be empathetic. Closing ourselves to other people makes us imbalanced, whereas participating in their lives helps us to be healthier and happier.
In its most essential form, generosity is giving something of ourselves over for the benefit of others. It could be our possessions, our time, or our energy. But, too often, our sense of property and entitlement keeps us from generosity. When we learn to let go and conquer these fears, we learn to be generous. An act of generosity may make us feel less equipped and secure, but by providing for others, we make the world just a little bit kinder.
We all know how it feels to be seen as less than what we are. We feel that we are treated as if we were another person—an unrecognizable version of ourselves. It happens all too often. After all, who can be bothered to take the time to know us truly? We can combat this with respect, and respect begins simply with seeing and hearing one another. Take the time to open yourself to others’ needs and experiences without judgement, unsolicited advice, and unnecessary pressure. Such a simple act of kindness resonates by multitudes.