"How much is it worth?," we ask, in hopes that we've gotten a steal, found a bargain, or found a sale. And maybe, just maybe our return will be of even higher than the original value. We are always concerned with cost. We budget around cost. We make choices around cost. We are about the value of what we are getting but only to some degree. Sometimes we choose to eat the $16.00 gourmet hamburger when we are valuing another's companionship at a fancy restaurant and are choosing to value indulgence in a treat. Of course, other times, we value a similar meal by choosing the $1.00 hamburger that we selected off a "Value Menu" when we are prioritizing cost and speed. We are intent on being wise in our costs and we generally look for the highest value with the lowest cost.
So what is the value of kindness? And what is our cost?
To me, this is one of the worlds best bargains! You see, the value of kindness is high. So high in fact that no one ever got mad for someone being too kind. Well, probably someone did but it was one of those ridiculous reasons to get mad. In fact, we even facetiously say things like, "Oh you're too kind." But, the thing is...I think we don't mean it. It's hyperbole. One cannot be too kind.
And what if they were? What if you were too generous? What if you were too kind? You mean you forgave someone who was mean to you? You did something kind for someone who was mean to you? You gave someone the benefit of the doubt and assumed good intent. You thought kind thoughts when you easily could have harbored a grudge, and done so in a rather justified manner.
I have a sign in my home that says, "If you can be anything, be kind." It's one of my favorite sayings because sometimes, I easily feel like I fail at being a lot of things. I fail at getting through all my email. I fail at solving all my patient's problems. I fail at serving everyone around me as I would like to. I fail to always thinking kind thoughts about others when I'm driving. I can't be everything. And I don't want to be just anything...but I can always be kind.
And what's it to me? What's the cost? The cost of kindness is nothing. I think that's actually a lie. Kindness does come at a cost. That cost cannot be folding into a wallet, stored in a bank account, or saved for a rainy day. The cost comes through cultivating our thoughts, feelings, words, emotions, and beliefs everyday of our lives. It comes at the cost of humility. Of admitting when you're wrong. It comes at the cost of saying you're sorry. It comes at the cost of pride. Of recognizing that you aren't perfect. Kindness comes at the cost of time. It's not always convenient to be kind. Sometimes, you may not feel like you have time to say thank you or to stop and help a neighbor. The cost is excess. You have to shed some of the unnecessary things that block your path to kindness. The cost is vision. It's seeing things the way they really are as opposed to how you want to, or could choose to see it. The cost is forgiveness. And asking others for their forgiveness. The cost is repentance. Repentance in the sense of turning and changing and becoming something different than you were before.
Kindness doesn't cost anything monetarily. Kindness costs a change of your heart.
And what if kindness doesn't beget kindness. This is not a good return on your investment of cultivating this attribute. And unfortunately, even though you can be so kind, people can still be mean back to you. In fact, they can be heartless. They can even cause you to feel not kind in response. But what you do with that inclination is what matters the most. You have a choice. Your return may not look so good, but ultimately, it will be the only thing that matters. Choose to invest in kindness. Choose to pay kindness forward. Choose to cultivate kindness.
--thoughts from hard lessons on a long day