Let’s imagine how we might respond to the following three gifts given to us by a 4-year old.
- The 4-year-old gives us a hand-drawn picture.
- The 4-year-old gives us a two pieces of Lego connected together.
- The 4-year-old gives us an insult.
Let’s go through these situations one at time.
- The picture. It’s drawn as well as it can be drawn by a 4-year-old with limited mastery over fine motor skills. It’s a picture. It’s not anything I can use. It’s nothing I necessarily even want. But it’s a gift from a 4-year-old. And I know how I ought to respond.
- The Legos. It’s nothing I wanted. It’s something a fellow 4-year-old would have wanted. But it’s a gift from a 4-year-old. And I know how I ought to respond.
- The insult. The 4-year-old tells me something unkind. I don’t have to think of it as a gift, but if I do, it’s a gift from a 4-year-old. And I know how I ought to respond.
This is about neither the 4-year-old nor the gift, it’s about how we respond and how we treat others, how we treat those in our lives, and how we treat ourselves.
Can we express love, compassion, and kindness towards anyone? Can’t we?
No matter what they give us – whether it’s a smile or a frown – we can accept their gift and act the way we know we ought to respond with compassion and love.
I’m not saying we ought to be doormats to other people’s rude behavior. But as Dr. Phil said, “There is a difference between saying ‘I don’t want to dance’ and ‘I wouldn’t dance with you if you were the last person on earth.'”
We needn’t blast someone who is unkind with unkindness in return; instead we can gently tell them that we would rather be treated with kindness.
Loving others is the goal we ought to always seek.
It just takes some practice.
I can reach the goal of being compassionate, and you can too, by practicing compassion.