Musings in the ‘burbs: The potency of kindness

The best time for kindness is not the time you think it is. (Bear with me; I've had another epiphany, people).

Kindness. Such a simple concept but I've only just come to terms with its potency and how transformative it is when practised in daily life.

Not that I was all anti-kindness or totally unaware of the feel good residue that sticks to you after being kind. After all, kindness is the basic premise of every religion (along with giving a courtesy wave when someone lets you in in traffic).

I know I’m not the first person to think that being kind is a neat idea. There are people who go about their lives all day every day Mother Thereseing it up, paying it forward, totally bloody raking in karma coins with random acts of kindness and humanitarian practices. Those people are special.

I’m not special. Well, I’m sure my children and my partner think so but intrinsically Kind People are certainly a cut above. I’m humanely flawed. I fuck up on a regular basis. I lose my shit. I swear in front of my kids. I get pissed off at other drivers. Often in front of my kids. I don’t spend enough time with my friends. I eat too much chocolate and drink too much wine.

I try to fuck up less each year – in fact, I consider it a lifelong project. Each January, my new year’s resolution could be summarised as: 

fuck up less.

Hopefully as I get older my Fuck Up ration is becoming exponentially less than my Do Good ratio. But that’s not for me to say.

Granted, it’s hardly a spoiler to reveal that being kind to people is totally rad. But my point is this: 
even for us fuck ups, the best time to be kind to people is when they have royally pissed you off and are tugging on your last nerve.

Because in being kind to them you are ultimately being kind to yourself (see, my motives are selfish - not saintly). 

The moment you allow force yourself to choose nice over going all Mel Gibson on their ass, your anger and frustration dissipates. Sure, it may take a deep breath or three to get there, but once you approach the problem and the person from a position of kindness instead of peeved, you can solve it effectively instead of emotionally. And, unless you plan on never seeing said problem person again, a calm and rational outcome to a bullshit scenario is ideal for everyone concerned.

Banksy - Umbrella Girl

Not sure if you've noticed, but bullshit scenarios galore  tend to crop up with your partner and your kids or generally anyone you live with? Avoiding head-fuckery at home is one of the best places to practice the Kind Method. Em Rusciano recently shared her own take on how you deal with your kids and how they, in turn, deal back to you.

Speak to them how you want them to speak to you. Note: I have really had to work on this one, mainly because 'sarcastic bitch' is my default setting. If your kids are being rude little arsehats, it may be time to look at how you relate to them. I did and things have taken on a much gentler tone in my house."

Dr Nat* thinks that the reason for this is because anger and frustration play a sneaky little trick by confusing everyone involved in a melee. For instance, say you have just spent half a day cleaning, polishing and vacuuming your car with such diligence even the car tragic across the road was looking at you admirably. While it wasn't the most fun you've had on a Sunday afternoon, the end result made you pretty damn glad you'd gone to the time and effort - and check out your schmick looking ride! But, alas, your pride is short lived because the next day, your friend asks to borrow your vehicle but returns it covered in sludge. You also suspect she may have gone to the trouble of shovelling into it the entire contents of the dumpster behind your local Maccas and KFC.

You are livid. You are seething at your friend. You actually imagine throttling her. That is against the law so you decide instead you will just stay away from her – ignoring her texts, refusing to Like anything she puts on Facey and boycotting the lunch she has organised. It seems apt because she is a bad friend with no consideration for you.

But, soz to tell you: you are r-r-r (say it Fonzie) ... you're wrong. 

She is a great friend. She held your hand when you lost your Pop and she held your hair back when you lost your last boyfriend. Anger and frustration are confusing you into thinking she is not worthy of your company and attention.

I'm not saying that that certain situations don’t warrant frank confrontation. I am a devoted subscriber to Get it off your Chest Weekly, because I find if you try to hide ongoing irritation or a one-time, big-time visit to Pissmeoffville, eventually your feelings will come exploding out of you in one way or another - resulting in casualties. 

But the problem with that is that if you don’t participate in frank confrontations with kindness, it is hard to distinguish whether it is the person or the act that is getting the thumbs down and the middle finger up. Boom.

And people tend to get a bit defensive when they are getting the 'you are not worthy' vibe. Especially when they are worthy, even though they invited a cavalcade of barn yard animals to take a walk through your clean car.

History is rife with examples where a deep breath and a kinder approach could have saved lives and relationships. And, even more crucial, so are TV and movies. Here are a few examples of where an alternative, more kindly response would have defo saved the day:

Sex & the City – Season 3 ep 48: Cock a doodle do!
How it unfolded: Carrie and Miranda have a big fight when Braddy tells Hobbs she is going to meet Mr Big for lunch at the Boathouse. Miranda tells Carrie that it's a huge mistake to see Big again and Carrie calls Miranda "judgmental" then storms out of the grubby little vintage store.

Kinder alternative: Miranda suggests that that while she supports her friend, Carrie might be better off skipping the lunch and heading to an art show and possibly picking up a rich Russian. Carrie responds in appreciation of her friend’s concern but believes the outfit she plans to wear is heaps more apt for Big Boathousing than looking at art and Russians so sorry but not sorry. Miranda says oh ok as long as you've thought it through. Carries says look I probably haven't but ... oh, cute top.

Pulp Fiction (Marcellus Wallace and Butch)

How it unfolded: Marcellus Wallace pays boxer Butch Coolidge to throw his next fight. Instead of throwing the match, Butch fights so viciously that he kills his opponent after betting on himself. Marcellus wants revenge and orders his hitmen to scour the Earth for that motherfucker and that if Butch goes to Indochina, he wants them hiding in a bowl of rice ready to pop a cap in his ass.

Kinder alternative: Marcellus figures he’s got enough money anyway, admires Butch’s pride, drive and athleticism and they share a bowl of fruit salad and laugh at what a ninny idea it was in the first place.


How it unfolded: Before his death, Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius chooses victorious general Maximus Decimus Meridias to be his heir over his own son, Commodus. Not too happy about this turn of events, Commodus condemns Maximus and his family to death.

Kinder alternative: After realising that these were the wishes of his dad’s - not the purely the doing of Maximus - Commodus calms down. He also realises Maximus is going to be the one dealing with the papps and all the bullshit that comes with the responsibilities of office. Commodus works through his anger and invites Maximus and his wife and son round for a barbie on the condition that Max makes his famous Peri Peri chicken.

The Bachelor Australia – season 2, ep 11
How it unfolded: The season’s princess, Laurina went full glamour for her date with bachelor Blake, only to be taken to a bowling alley and pie shop. Cue tears, distress and bad feelings all round. “Everyone else gets Ferraris, super yachts and private jets, and I get a dirty street pie!” cries Laurina.

I'm sorry what?

Kinder alternative: All of the contestants are kinder to themselves and never bother to get involved in this grubby, yet admittedly awesomely regaling piece of televisual tat.

* Me

Please also check out:
Musings in the 'burbs - I'm here with all of My People

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