Do unto Others
Charles Darwin had no idea that the phrase, “survival of the fittest,” originating from his theories was going to become a code phrase for those clawing their way to the top without regard for the common man. Seeking our interests and putting our needs first to the detriment of others has become the 21st Century accepted strategy for survival. Sometimes our manipulation to get to the top is overt and sometimes it’s a hidden game of strategy like in the CBS broadcasted game of Survivor.
It is our nature to panic and seek success using any method imaginable because after all only the people with a strong desire to succeed and the ability to “adapt” can be “successful”. But if you are presently feeling the urge to destroy others for the preservation of the ego, I urge you to listen to the words of Mignon McLaughlin, “Don’t be yourself. Be someone a little kinder.”
Success and survival in the wild is not analogous to success in your relationships. For it is not when you are the swiftest, the strongest, or smartest that your relationships survive, but when you are kind.
Before you start thinking that you don’t want to be kind because it implies a kind of niceness that you don’t possess, let me put you at ease. Kindness is not niceness. Barry Corey in his book, Love Kindness remind us that, “kindness is fierce, never to be mistaken by niceness. They’re not the same and never were. Kindness is neither timid nor frail, as niceness can be so easily.” So I’m not asking you to be nice. I am asking you to be brave, daring, fearless and courageous. If you do your kid’s laundry, you are being nice. But if you teach them how to do their own laundry patiently and consistently, you are being kind. You are being kind because you want them to feel accomplished, self-sufficient, and ready for independence. Kindness is not a short-lived act that pleases others, it is a permanent action with eternal consequences.
But there’s another aspect to kindness. The one that forces us to be civil and receivable. It’s so easy to get swept by the meanness of our peers and like them point the finger, criticize, and call to task all those who disagree with us. We know how to put someone in their place and spend countless hours researching the errors of their way. It takes much courage though to stand with compassion next to those we disagree with. In the words of Barry Corey, we must become receivable. Not accepted, not received by them but receivable! Decent enough to where we are not pushing people away.
Kindness is also good for our personal health. Like most medical antidepressants, kindness stimulates the production of serotonin. Serotonin calms you down and gives you a sense of happiness. Engaging in acts of kindness produces endorphins, the brain’s natural painkillers. Compassionate people have 23% less cortisol, the stress hormone.
So forget the survival of the fittest. Instead, be kind. It’s good for your mental health and it’s also good for your sons, daughters, friends, and spouse who desperately need you to make a difference for them. Choose to do unto others what you would want them to do unto you.
Think about the words of the proverb, “one gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” So go on ahead, stop withholding and allow kindness to enrich your relationships and bring satisfaction to your life, because unlike Darwin’s Theory of surviving in the wild, when it comes to personal relationships it is only when you share your life with others that you can then find life satisfying.