If You Want Real Happiness, Look Inward And Find The Hidden Power Of Kindness
We live at a time when it's very popular to criticize. Whether we turn on the radio, television, or listen to religious debates -- within our own faith -- the new chic is to go after each other's throats and see who can hold most tightly for the longest period.
Many times, there is a rationalization: we can almost always rationalize the negative. We excoriate political leaders in the name of free speech (not just criticize them, but assault their very beings) and we criticize the Church -- even attacking bishops by name -- in the cause of saving Christianity.
When we die, we may be startled at how God looks at that.
We may find, for example, that it's more important to love and to forgive -- to forget -- than to genuflect on the correct knee.
Christ admonished us to cast the logs from our own eyes before we go looking for blemishes in the eyes (and lives) of others; how many of us give that heed? He was not legalistic. He had a different approach -- and an incredible message: that whenever we see something astray in another, we should keep quiet and first look inwardly.
In other words, as soon as we want to criticize, we should head right into prayerful introspection, cast out whatever may be in us (often we detest in others what we subconsciously detest in ourselves), and then pray for the other person.
A priest once said that when we die, we’re going to discover that most people are better than we thought. When they're askew, they may be going through trials. They may be enduring hardships. They may have burdens we can't see.
That's not to excuse evil, nor to be naive. It is to say we should first think the best of others. There are few things worse than false negative assumptions.
Do we have to admonish? At times, yes. But we should do that directly to the person, with gentleness, with respect.
Kindness is the keyword. It pleases God. It gives you the chance to be happy. And it erases all those past negatives for which we will otherwise be held accountable in the afterlife.
It's what you must see when you look inwardly.
"If you are earnestly conforming yourself to the image of Jesus Christ, sharpness, bitterness, and sarcasm disappear," wrote Father Lawrence G. Lovasik in a splendid book called exactly that: The Hidden Power of Kindness, a book that will improve your spiritual walk, a book we certainly recommend. "Kindness is our imitation of Divine Providence. Kindness adds sweetness to everything. It makes life's capabilities blossom and fills them with fragrance. Kindness is like Divine grace."
When we die, Christ will immediately review our lives and how kind we were. It may well be the first thing He goes over with you -- how you made others feel.
Now is the time to change. We all have the opportunity. It's a time of mercy.
How do we start?
Kindness is encouraging others. It's making other people feel special. It's upholding the dignity of every human. It's enhancing dignity. It's making others feel important. It's being courteous. It's putting others first. It's being punctual. It's being generous. It's forgetting "self." It's smiling even when you don't want to smile (and then really feeling like it). It's surprising others with treats and compliments, even over little things.
It's excusing others when what you want to do is criticize.
As Father Lovasik notes in his book, "delight in another's misfortune owes its origin to the devil, who, in the depths of his own misery, knows no other pleasure than that which he finds in our pain."
Do you want to be in consort with him? Do you want to imitate him and find fault with everyone around you? Or do we prefer the company of angels, who offer encouragement?
God loves a non-critical soul, and when we look inwardly we purify.
Go back and think of all the times you could have spent reviewing your own behavior instead of analyzing someone else. Spend as much time looking at yourself as others and you won't have much negative to say about those others. Get in the habit not of spotting faults but of dispensing kindness. Then, watch your joy mushroom!
"Kindness drives gloom and darkness from our souls and puts hope into fainting hearts," notes Father Lovasik. "It sweetens sorrow and lessens pain. It discovers unsuspected beauties of human character and calls forth a response from all that is best in souls.
"Kindness purifies, glorifies, and ennobles all that it touches. Kindness stops the torrent of angry passion, takes the sting from failure, and kindles courageous ambition."
Real power there.
A force that will bring you joy here -- as well as in the hereafter.
[Bookstore resources: The Hidden Power of Kindness]
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