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Am I Being Kind?

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Am I Being Kind?

Check out the choices you make.
Michael J. Chase
Michael J. Chase More by this author
Apr 14, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Asking “am I being kind?” is the ultimate tool for creating awareness. The next time you’re about to argue, complain, consume unhealthy food, yell at a loved one, or even litter, take a deep breath and inquire within: “am I being kind?” By pausing and internally posing this question, you will not only become more aware, you’ll begin to make kindness toward yourself and all of life a daily practice.

If you’re unsure when to apply this powerful phrase, a simple rule of thumb is to look at it from another perspective and consider, “Would I want my children to act this way?” Gandhi famously said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Perhaps this could be slightly revised: we must be the change we wish to see in our children. If you don’t have kids, you can simply reflect on how you’d like others to treat you in a similar situation. How often have we heard mothers and fathers tell their children, “It’s not nice to gossip and talk about other people,” while they’re habitually performing this act of unkindness around their family and friends? Many times, adults preach good manners and politeness while behaving in ways that are incongruent with their own rules.

My good friend Tom always says, “Whenever I make a decision with kindness, I always seem to make the right choice.” My brother-in-law Mike often follows “am I being kind” with, “What’s the kindest possible thing I can do in this moment?” Personally, I find both of those outlooks valuable.

“am I being kind” is the perfect inner mantra whenever you feel anxious, angry, or conflicted; or if you simply need to make the right choice. When you take a deep breath and reflect on this question before reacting in any situation, you’ll find that it’s the key to both inner and outer peace. And opportunities to use this inquiry of the heart will pop up everywhere. Here are a few to consider:

  • You’ve just finished a healthy meal when someone offers you a triple-fudge brownie the size of a brick. You graciously accept it even though you’re trying to lose ten pounds. Before you take a bite, pause, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “am I being kind to my body?” What do you do?
  • While in a hurry to pick up a few groceries after work, you see an opportunity to cut into a parking space ahead of someone who was obviously heading right for it. Just before you pull in, pause, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “am I being kind to this person?” What do you do?
  • While out for an evening walk, you notice litter in the street in front of your neighbor’s home. You decide to ignore it because it’s not your problem. But before walking any farther, pause, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “am I being kind to the earth and my neighbor?” What do you do?
  • A co-worker who drives you crazy inspires you to make a rude comment that will get big laughs from others in the office, but likely hurt this person’s feelings. Just before you speak, pause, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “am I being kind to my co-worker?” What do you do?
  • You’re about to honk your horn and yell at a woman who accidentally cuts you off in traffic, and you notice she’s driving a carful of kids. Before exploding with anger, pause, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “am I being kind to this family?” What do you do?
  • Earlier in the week, you promised your spouse that you two would spend Friday evening together having dinner and watching a movie. But Friday morning you get an offer to go out for drinks with some friends after work. You decide that your significant other will probably understand, and the two of you can go out next week. But before you call to let your significant other know about your change of plans, pause, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “am I being kind to my husband/wife?” What do you do?

As you can see, this simple question is the ideal personal device for creating awareness, and it can also help you make choices that benefit yourself and those around you. Each time you ask this question, you can follow up by inquiring, “How may I be kind?” From there, your only job is to listen and then act in a way that’s congruent with your heart.

About Author
Michael J. Chase
Affectionately known as “The Kindness Guy,” Michael J. Chase is an author, inspirational speaker, and a powerful voice for creating a kinder world. At the age of 37, following a life-changing epiphany, Michael ended an award-winning photography caree Continue reading