When I was a little girl and lost my temper because Mum had asked me to do something that I didn’t want to do her remark was usually delivered calmly but with gravity, ‘Amy could you just do that with a bit of good grace?’ As a child I didn’t really understand what that meant apart from try not to mutter under your breath, have a scowl on your face, or slam doors.
As an adult I understand a lot more what Mum was trying to say. ‘Amy could you do that with a bit of good grace?’ was really a lesson in doing all things with kindness. And that is how I try to live my life now.
I am not saying that I am perfect. I am not saying that sometimes I don’t act out of spite, or annoyance, or desperation, or anger; but, for the most part I try to live with kindness in the things I do.
Kindness to others by doing that little extra, listening when someone needs to talk, cheering on my loved ones and acquaintances when they have achieved something, or just by giving a smile away expecting nothing in return.
Kindness to myself by treating my body right, taking care of my mental cobwebs, and working on things I am passionate about.
Kindness is not an act of the meek either. Sometimes kindness requires you to pull on your boots, take the muddy moral high road, and be the bigger person in a situation where sinking down to the depths would be a lot easier. Kindness is a conscious act: you choose to act kindly, it is not the automatic default.
Kindness can be exhausting, but most of the time kindness nourishes the soul as much as it depletes it. You get back what you give out to the world. Kindness begets kindness. You set a good example for the person you are interacting with. You set a good example for others by being kind to yourself. Kindness frees you from the weight of displeasure with everything around you, it makes everyday interactions richer, and clears that tornado of discontentment with your life. You are choosing your outlook and way of moving through the world.
So now I understand what Mum was saying. It was a message to live kindly, pay the price of kindness, and reap the riches of the soul that it brings. Even the simplest acts, when done in the spirit of kindness, thoroughly nourish the soul.