Today is World Kindness Day.
I'm not sure who thought the idea up but it is one heck of a good idea for those of us trying to live life on life's terms, especially when those conditions are starting to feel a bit overwhelming.
I'm not just talking about my fellow humans here in NJ/NY who are experiencing unparalleled psychological damage and physical losses from Hurricane Sandy (and the nor'easter that immediately followed). We all are affected by the economic, environmental, and political events of the past few decades.
Jobs are being lost, outsourced, or downsized. Men and women go to war with some coming home injured and others not coming back at all.
Tsunami's, earthquakes, and hurricanes are part of daily national and international headlines. The number of people killed or injured is staggering. In our family, loved ones have gotten sick, died, incurred huge medical expenses and/or inadequate care from a broken managed-care system.
All of these "life-bump" events -- and others not described above -- are out of our control. In the words of the 12-Step recovery folks, we indeed are powerless over the people, places, and things in our lives.
The only thing we have -- and possess in incredible abundance -- is the capacity to be kind to others and to ourselves. Each of us is capable of empathy, compassion, and listening to the suffering of another. Each of us has the seed of compassionate listening to the suffering deep inside our own self.
We can listen with the heart of a mother soothing her crying infant. We can learn to "be there" for another person and to "be there" for ourselves, even when life's terms cannot be changed.
When we are kind, when compassion flows, when we are present to one another, an amazing thing happens. The toxicity of the life event that has so rocked us becomes neutralized, one kindness at a time.
A miraculous dialysis occurs in body, mind, and spirit. We witness heightened blood pressure and dangerous blood sugar readings subside. Migraines disappear. We feel connected to a great loving energy that swaddles and protects us. Slowly we recognize that it is this pure energy that has allowed the human race to survive its own folly.
So, I invite you to try one act of kindness -- towards yourself or others -- today and to let me know the results. I'm guessing that you will feel less toxic, less worried, and less fearful of the next moment. Heck, you may even feel joy!
At least this is how it feels on a rainy November morning in Central NJ where some forecasters are painting unpretty pictures of another nor'easter for Thanksgiving Week.
I say, let's blow this storm-wannabe out to sea with kind and compassionate acts.
Judy Shepps Battle is a New Jersey resident, addictions specialist, consultant and freelance writer. Her weekly column "It Takes a Village" appeared in the South Brunswick Patch for a year. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information on this and other topics can be found at her website at http://www.writeaction.com/.
Copyright 2012 Judy Shepps Battle