Publisher - August 2018
Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
— Mark Twain—
I was driving through a busy, tourist-filled parking lot when it happened. A man pulled out right in front of me. I quickly slammed the brakes to avoid a collision, but still ended up so close, I could clearly make out his facial expression. I saw him mouthing something and immediately thought, “What a jerk.” As he pulled around me, he rolled down his window and stopped. “I am so sorry,” he said, sincerely. “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it,” I responded and smiled.
Wow! That was unexpected. What a nice exchange of communication. Two very civil people: One taking complete responsibility for his mistake and apologizing; the other holding no grudge or malice and offering immediate, non-judgmental forgiveness.
Not five minutes later when I entered the traffic on the main road, I noticed a bumper sticker that read, “Wag More, Bark Less.” It made me smile and think back to the incident that had just occurred in the grocery store parking lot. I was grateful road rage had not reared its ugly head and that we hadn’t crashed. But most of all, I was grateful for a moment of pure human interaction that was good for the soul.
This isn’t an editorial about road rage. This editorial is about kindness and wellness. I believe the two go hand-in-hand. It’s almost impossible to have positive mental health without kindness. Think about it, most of what ails us—especially emotionally and mentally—stems from negative stimuli and acts of unkindness. I don’t know the exact statistics, but I’ve watched enough talk shows to know that most people who lead a life heavy with burden, anger and dysfunction, usually have experienced repeated unkindness.
My point is this: When you are kind to others, you are also being kind to yourself. Think of the ramifications extreme anger (like road rage) and chronic grumpiness have on your body. According to an article posted by the BBC, Leon James, a Professor of Traffic Psychology at the University of Hawaii, stated that research has found initial aggressive stimulation of road rage is very harmful to the body—especially if it occurs again and again:
“When you are angry, you are pouring stress hormones into your blood system, which are harmful to your heart and other functions of the body,” he said. “So if we experience this kind of anger, or impatience in driving every day, all our lives, you can see that over the years it’s going to have a very strong negative health effect on the driver.”
I can only imagine the negative health effects of all the other unkind things people do to other people in this world, especially in the hateful political arena we live in today. I guess the old saying, This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you, is right on. Plus, we are not only harming our bodies by leading angry, unkind lives, we are also killing our psyche and shriveling our capacity to fully be loved.
Let’s delve into the simple dog logic of wag more, bark less. I walk my dog, Henry, a lot. People love him because he is friendly and gentle. He rarely barks. He doesn’t jump on people. His sweet demeanor attracts people of all ages to come up and give him some love. Occasionally, we run across a dog that barks at everyone. No one goes up to that dog to show him love. He is avoided—deemed unfriendly and annoying.
The same applies to humans. When you are kind, you are also approachable. You attract others who want to be around you because you make them feel good, like Henry. If you’re a barker—and we all know several—people want to avoid you like the plague. It’s so simple and yet so difficult. The next time you’re feeling grumpy, just apply dog logic.
The Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” The choice is yours, and the benefits of your kindness nourish your body and soul, as well as others. In other words, there is something in it for you!
There are so many good things and good people around us; all you have to do is notice. Wag more and bark less. Be kind…it will do your heart good in ways that will keep you smiling for a very long time. Are you wagging? I am.