Really? What was the question? I have a hunch that the question was how do we live in a world where each and every day the news reports such nastiness. Media captures images and reports stories that scare me! I’m on a diet, now. I restrict my mainstream media to smaller bites. I learn the basics and focus on how I can contribute to the people I come in contact with in my life.
This month, I offer a few ways to cope in a month that idealises romantic love in February. The marketers send messages about Valentines Day and being a couple. Why not host a bad date night for some friends and share the worst dates you’ve each had? I’m planning one! You’re bound to have some laughs and feel less alone. I also buy some kids Valentine’s cards and hand them out to everyone! It’s fun! Everyone seems to like getting a silly Valentine. A few of them even get chocolate!
I believe that kindness is actually the answer. In love and friendship. Be kind to yourself and one another. Be kind to your neighbours, animals and even strangers. When we create the habit of being kind, it’s easier to face the news, as we have created a safety net for ourselves and the people we care about most.
I was walking to the subway with a neighbour and we said hello to the people walking towards us, shopkeepers and even the fellow who sweeps the street. Then, my friend said “Hang on for a sec, I have to do something”. She approached a fellow who creeps me out and exchanged a few words and gave him a wrapped candy. He beamed and took another drag from his cigarette.
I was pretty surprised. He’s someone I tend to ignore. I “decided” long ago that he was a junkie. He seems to prefer to lurk in the shadows and is always smoking when I see him. He’s sullen, skinny, and his clothes look wrinkled. My friend told me that she used to think that too, but became curious and went over to offer him and candy one day and has started exchanging a few words each time she sees him. He lives alone and comes out to smoke several times per day. She tells me that he’s harmless. Just another lonely person in our neighbourhood. I appreciated the lesson. I nod to him now and he nods back. I see him in a new light and I’ve told a few other people that he’s just an average guy who doesn’t want to smoke in his apartment.
It’s a great reminder that we’re each doing the best that we can. Each and every one of us. Most of us want to be a part of a community. Some of us just have more skills at this, than others.
I want to clarify that I believe that spreading kindness to others, starts with myself. When I can be kind to me, being kind to others becomes much easier. To that end, I make time for meditation, walking, reading, journalling, swimming, etc. Anything that recharges me. To remind myself of this, I wrote on my bathroom mirror “Be kind to the woman in the mirror”. That’s a friendly reminder to me to take good care of myself, so I can be kinder to others.
My hope for you is that February is filled with love and kindness. Love yourself and be kind to yourself and it will follow that you can spread love and kindness along the way, to others.
Photo by Mayur Gala