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Tag: thanksgiving

Tough Kindness

You’ve heard of tough love. Those times when you have to tell someone you love that they are wrong, or have messed up, or even have to have some kind of intervention.

Tough kindness is tough love’s brother. And it is just as hard to practice. Why is kindness called a religion? Because it goes against our selfish human nature, the one that demands satisfaction now, gives into anger, and doesn’t treat others the way we want to be treated, but rather responds to the way we are treated.

This week has been a week of Thanksgiving. (See my Ungrateful Ass post earlier in the week) and I also had a birthday. At this time of celebration, I also learned a couple of things about people around me. So it pains me to say that while I rejoice in what I have, and I celebrate another year above ground, I must practice some tough kindness. Here are a few things I have learned.

Give in to what the other person wants. Sometimes what people think they want is not what they want at all. Just like a child reaching for a container of poison: the kind thing for a parent to do is stop them. However, sometimes when someone is an adult, their desires overwhelm common sense. Tough kindness is simply letting them have it.

Say no to negativity. It’s not a contradiction. Negative people with negative energy often want others to engage with them in unkind activities, justifying them by the actions of others. The hardest thing to do is say no: to practice kindness despite perceived injury. The person who injured you did not make you feel a certain way, but your reaction to them produced feelings. While these feelings cannot always be helped, chasing them with unkindness almost never produces positive results.

Avoid selfish attachment. Do you know what jealousy really is? It is an expression of fear over the loss of an attachment to something or someone. True love, true friendship has no place for fear. Friendship and love are not possessions, nor are they feelings. They are commitments engaged in by another, freely. You cannot own a commitment, nor can you control its length or depth. You can only control your own commitments, and must recognize the decisions others make have more to do with their attachments than your own.

Tough kindness has a common theme. We must relinquish the desire to control others, let them have what they want, while saying no to the negativity they wish to bring into our own lives. Finally, we must avoid jealousy and selfish attachment.

These are not always the answers. But at times, practicing tough kindness is the best way to rise above the chaos around you.

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The Ungrateful Ass

Okay, let me just get this off my chest. I’ve been an ungrateful ass at times this year. Hell, over the last couple of years. I think it comes from a lack of perspective, something we can all use a healthy dose of from time to time. Here are several things I’m thankful for:

write for foodEmployment. Not only do I have a job I love, in fact several jobs I love, but the primary fact is, I have a job, period. There are hundreds who are unemployed or underemployed, with no decent or realistic options on the horizon. People with graduate degrees are bagging groceries and waiting tables. Are you thankful for the fact you get to go to work?

Relationships. People are a hurtful lot. They strike out, are disrespectful and even downright mean. But I have some good friends who are not afraid to speak truth into my life, share common goals, and who offer mutual encouragement and when needed, ass kicking. Sure, there have been some negative experiences this year. We still interact with faulty humans. But I’m grateful for the good ones around me. Do you have friendships you’re thankful for?

grumpyFamily. I don’t know about your family, but mine is filled with dysfunction. But on the flip side, it’s filled with some really cool people who really care about me. My kids are awesome, most of the time. (How could they not be?) My granddaughter is a delight. So while some of you sit down at a large meal with seldom seen relatives, and hope your true feelings don’t come pouring out like turkey gravy, remember there are some good people at that table too. Many people have no family at all. Do you have relatives you can be thankful for?

Health. I’ve slacked off this year. I need to get to the gym more, and lose some weight. I know I’m not the only one. But I can walk, use both arms, run short distances, and pretty much eat or drink whatever I want, even those things I shouldn’t. I don’t have cancer, or haven’t been infected with another serious disease. My body is pretty much whole and functional. How’s yours? If you’re reading this, the likelihood is you have something related to health to be grateful for.

jim careyWealth. Are you living in the United States, or a well-developed country? Then compared to many parts of the world you are wealthy, to some degrees excessively so. We complain about money, and sometimes things can be tight. But if you have a roof, food, clean drinking water, sewage, and transportation you are wealthy. Are there things in your life you take for granted?

Hell, this list could go on for a long time. Here’s the point. Almost without exception, if you are breathing, upright, and reading this, you have something to be thankful. Don’t follow my lead. Stop being an ungrateful ass.

Be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving.