Tsoknyi Rinpoche: The Importance of Kindness

The modern world makes endless demands on our time and attention. So much so that it’s hard to believe we could ever discover a deep well of sanity, peace, and well-being. Day by day, moment by moment, we are bombarded with information. Countless demands are placed on our attention. Our lives have become in some ways like modern news programs showing split-screen views: a newscaster in one window; someone being interviewed in another; stock market information flowing down the side; and underneath it all is a crawler with breaking news.

As we try to take in all this information, we become somewhat unbalanced. We push ourselves, because if we’re not looking at all these things at once, we’re missing something, correct? We multitask. We hurry, hurry, hurry to finish whatever it is we’re involved in at the moment so we can get on with the next project, and the next, and the next. All the hurrying saps a great deal of our mental, emotional, and physical energy. As a result, we’re less productive, more volatile emotionally, and more muddled in our thinking.

It is important to find a balance among thoughts, feelings, and physical experiences—to discover what I refer to as our “inner speed limit,” a comfortable margin of activity that allows us to complete the tasks with which we’re faced on a daily basis without receiving a mental, emotional, or physical “speeding ticket.”

When seeking your personal speed limit, instead of focusing on the degree of effort you have to spend in getting your work done or the number of tasks you have to accomplish, bring attention to the attitude with which you approach such tasks. Do you consider the opportunities and challenges ahead of you with kindness and warmth, or do you just get through them in a brusque, impersonal way? When you get in your car and face another driver at an intersection, do you let him or her through first with a little wave of your hand or acknowledge that the driver will let you through first with a wave or a “thumbs-up” gesture?

It’s amazing how making an effort to integrate even a modicum of kindness into our everyday activities can help us find the sanity we long for. You may surprise yourself by becoming even more productive and that, through showing kindness to yourself, you can create an environment—at home, at work, or wherever you are—that is more positive and peaceful.

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