This morning I was thinking on my favorite quote by James M. Barrie (the author of Peter Pan) – “Always be a little kinder than necessary.”
Two words here… kinder and necessary.
To be kind means to be attentive, solicitous, considerate, compassionate, good-hearted, etc. These are all good things to be, for sure.
Barrie’s quote, however, doesn’t stop at just be kind – he exhorts us to be “kinder than necessary.”
This means that kindness is not a “do it when/if it’s convenient” – but that kindness is a necessary part of your actions in this life.
Necessary means imperative, certain, integral, vital.
Wow! What if we actually considered that kindness was vital to the way we act towards others? Imperative? Integral? Can you imagine the ways the world would change?
One example – a small one… What if when someone is talking to us we actually were kind enough (attentive) to really listen to what they were saying? (As opposed to thinking about what we’re going to say next… yes, we’re all guilty of that one at times!) We would certainly learn something about that person, perhaps giving us pause to be a little more compassionate towards them.
Another small example… What if the next time someone cuts us off in traffic — instead of flipping them the bird, muttering (or yelling) curses, or simply being irritated and put out — we sent them a measure of compassion for whatever in their life has brought them to the point of inconsideration? It could be poor upbringing, a tragedy that needs their immediate assistance, fear of something (like getting fired if they’re late for work), or any number of reasonable or unreasonable causes. Doesn’t really matter, does it? In the grand scheme of things, how we respond – and kindness, according to Barrie is the necessary/imperative/vital response – is what counts.
In my own life, my experience has been that compassion/consideration/attentiveness is never unnecessary. So, this morning, I’ll recommit myself (since unfortunately, kindness can be an easy thing to forget) to being “a little kinder than necessary.” Because I hope to never forget that kindness is a necessary thing.
You can visit The Kindness Project blog by clicking the icon above or here. Go forth and be kind!