This is the week six of Niki Meadow’s, of The Richness of a Simple Life, Kindness Challenge. She’s invited people to focus on kindness for seven weeks; offering a prompt each week and inviting us to work with that focus and then post about it at the end of the week.
This week’s challenge was not only choosing kindness but being kind without expectation.
The topic of expectation is dear to my heart, and one I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating, not just with regard to kindness.
I believe a hugely important issue, that gets very little consideration or discussion, is the fact that we, as a society, have somehow come to hold everything as transactional. Conditional. I give this, I get that.
I don’t think this is a particularly helpful way to think about things. Keeping ourselves in this sort of “accounting” mode is incredibly limiting and feels very much like an old paradigm we’ve outgrown. I absolutely believe we need to be balanced beings – giving and receiving and being in balanced flow. But I think we need to expand our understanding of receiving. We have to hold much more loosely the ideas of where what we need will come from, and let go of expectation. We need to be aware of the energy of things and not so much the physical objects. And when we do that, I imagine we’re in the balanced center of a lemniscate – the figure-eight infinity symbol. I have resources to give (the loop extending out from in front of me) because I have resources I’m receiving that support me (the loop behind me). But I’m always in the understanding that if I choose to give something I don’t have to hold the expectation of a straight-forward transaction. I can offer kindness without the expectation of being thanked. As long as I’m feeling adequately resourced, I can choose to spend my time and energy anyway I wish without considering it to be a transaction.
Thinking and acting this way is an invitation into the expansiveness of unconditionality.
I think this observation by John O’Donohue is profound, and critically important, and it feels more meaningful to me now more than ever. Not only do I believe it, but I think it’s essential we remember the truth of it for others as well.
“No one else has access to the world you carry around within yourself; you are its custodian and entrance. No one else can see the world the way you see it. No one else can feel your life the way you feel it.”
This speaks so clearly to me of sovereignty. I have absolutely no control over anything except myself, and knowing this, I’m inspired anew to commit to navigate with as much integrity, heart-truth, and light that I can possibly manage in each moment.
For me this is the heart of a practice of loving-kindness. We don’t know each other’s stories – nor do I think we really need to. I know for certain none of us here on this planet at this time is free from scars, most especially of the heart. None of us has the same perspective; none of us is anything less than a unique constellation. And yet I believe our job is to return to wholeness – to the understanding that we are all part of the collective whole.
Kindness is really one of the most limitless resources we have. Imagine if with every breath we took, we exhaled kindness. Can you imagine how different the world would be if each one of us practiced that even .01% of the time? Life would be unrecognizable! And isn’t that a challenge you’d like to participate in? Kindness solely for the sake of kindness, without expectation, without keeping count, without anything. I like to think it is the breath we can meet the world with. Always. In every moment.
Deborah, thank you so much for sharing this infinite wisdom. I loved every bit of it and absolutely agree that this is a goal worth aiming for. Thinking of it as an exchange of energy rather than something tangible is exactly how I would like to perceive kindness.
I’m infinitely grateful for your kind words. 🙂
It’s true, kindness is not meant to be a transaction. If we took this to heart there would be peace in this world. Thanks for sharing your thoughts they speak volumes in a few words.
I’m ever hopeful Patricia that someday we will see peace. Thanks for the kind words, and wishing you a most wonderful week.
Hi Deborah – we have seen kindness recently here (in desperate situations) … and as you and your readers say – if we could just be kind and considerate at all times then life might be easier for us all and peace could mostly reign. Cheers and have a good kind week – I will I know … Hilary
It’s such an interesting phenomenon to me – we make those heart connections and kindness is almost our built-in automatic response in the wake of tragic events. And that’s certainly a good thing – kindness is so needed at those times! But I wish it didn’t take heart-break and desperate times to elicit mass scale loving-kindness responses.
Thanks for the kind wishes for the week – I hope you’re up to something delightfully wonderful Hilary.
this post is beautifully written and gives me much to reconsider about my sovereignty; i love the reminder of that word. thank you.
I think it’s one of those things that we could all use frequent reminders about TL. For a while it was one of the words I wrote on the soles of my feet, to remind myself that it is possible to walk consciously in sovereignty with every step.
This Kindness Challenge is leaving quite an impression on me. John O’Donohue’s observation made an impact on me. After writing my ‘Kindness without Expectations’, I fell flat on my face by over-reacting when a friend didn’t come through on a commitment. I had to wrestle with both self-love (being kind to myself for my reaction) and also empathy for his situation (letting go of my expectations). It’s no so easy doing acts of kindness without expectations, is it? Yes, we only have control over our own sovereignty and how we choose to react/act in the world. Thank you, Deborah