Kindness Challenge
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Gratitude in Kindness

Author: G. Jefferies

 

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Welcome to my week five musings on Niki Lopez’s kindness challenge. I’ve decided to focus on gratitude and what it means in my world. To wit you are now embarking, as I, in a journey upon the empty page as it fills with whatever. I am, however, grateful for your presence.

I have puzzled the word gratitude and the implications of what it means in a personal sense. Obviously it’s a thank you, but in life I’ve found two types of people. Those that give freely and those that give with expectation. The above quote distilled this quite suddenly whilst pondering through memories, conversations and blog comments. Call it an epiphany, if you like, because, in truth, I’ve never really given a great deal of thought into the meaning of the word in question. Terrible that, isn’t it?

Giving freely with no attached obligation is my raison d’être; I just fail to see how anything can be deemed a kindness if, by return, you expect something back. The very word ‘expect’ disempowers the action, lessens it’s worth and even invalidates the kindness. I’ve seen it in public houses; the I buy you a drink, if you buy me a drink mentality. People look at me daft if I say ‘I bought that because I wanted to.’ On Twitter it’s the follow me follow you back mantra on profiles everywhere; I’ll be useful to you if you’ll be useful to me.

How often do you see people not feeling obligated to return a favour? I can only conclude that people in general expect be indebted to the person giving; a form of social programming. Obviously this is how the world of commerce and trade works, the day job as it were, but is this how we should lead our lives? Even at work people are people, so the concept of kindness should not be put on hold until home time.

So, two types of people; the givers and the obligators. Something neatly orated by the chap in the quote below.

 

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To sum it up; if you perform a kindness expecting one in return then maybe you’ve not quite mastered what it’s all about. Gratitude is unsolicited, but as Buddha says wise people express their appreciation and gratitude of the kindness by willingly returning one or spreading it elsewhere. Not because it is obligated, but because they actually want to; huge difference.

The one phrase that might well ring true in many people’s ears (especially parents…say no more) is…

‘You never do anything for me!’

Consider; does that phrase require more thought? Should we, by default, expect people to do things for us first, or should we lead by example and take the initiative? I find this challenging as a concept for reasons tackled in previous posts (no need to re-read, just linking them to remind me this is week five already!)

The Kindness Clause

The Habituation Loop

The Kindness Hunger

A Random Act of Kindness

When the kindness gets taken for granted there is an inevitable attrition of mindset. The kindness becomes a chore without redress. According to Buddha in the quote above that’s flawed thinking.

 

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Seems Confucius agrees. So, what’s the answer?

I think for me it lies partly in self gratitude. Things in life that I’m  truly appreciative of. The ones that alter perceptions, affect self esteem and state of mind. Happy in self, freer in giving out kindness and less likely to feel taken for granted. Part of re-dressing the balance discussed in a previous post; except that was more focussed on balancing chores with self kindness as a pleasurable none chore activity. Something tangible for oneself. Here I’m considering my take on things I should be grateful for.

Self gratitude; things to be thankful for that are, and I’ve certainly realised this week, taken for granted as per The Habituation Loop. Except this is me taking things for granted and not showing gratitude for them.

 

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Family is, perhaps, the obvious one. They live with you, talk, argue, entertain, laugh, cry and more. Yet, often I wake up and the day moves on, rolling into weeks and years,  but how often do I step back and smile because thet are there; notice the nuances of spirit all around?

The last two weeks has had me reflecting on this greatly. My eldest is taking his exams. Sixteen, potentially two more years and he may be leaving home. How did that happen so suddenly? The toddler become adult, end of all those school years inside a few weeks of stress and, for me, legion school runs as days cut short turn two into four. One set for exam boy and the other for his brother who is two years behind in schooling terms. It reminds me of the scene in The Holy Grail where Lancelot is assaulting a castle with two guards at the gate. They puzzle for ages over a running man forever in the distance. The scene rolls on with him not getting any closer and then cuts to ‘Aha!’ as he leaps forth and slays them. That time and relativity thing I’ve mentioned many times.

This week I have dwelt on the passage of his years and sought gratitude for all the moments I’ve enjoyed, even the angst. The whole package. I am a better person for being a parent…never thought I’d be saying that! So, family is the one thing to always be grateful for. Enjoy it while you still can; once it’s gone then, well, it’s gone.

The same is true of friends. Often taken for granted until the moment a game changer occurs and they are not. I’ve lost two ‘life’ friends from school, one to cancer and one to, well, that’s not one for here…to quote Harry Potter, ‘It’s complicated.’

The page here becomes harder to write. I will therefore self indulge with reminiscent nostalgia by referring to two older posts, or memoirs, where I explore two points in time with the deceased school friend. I will merely refer the reader to their locations. Some I know have already read them but new bloggers may, or may not, like to reflect on them…pure nostalgia on my behalf. The message from me is that I look back in gratitude for them…did I have gratitude during the living moments? I think not. Those days were taken for granted, never ending and halcyon days of long standing. When they ended it was traumatic. Something I have realised this week. Never, ever take family or friends for granted.

Ghost Carp

Of Wine, Nature and Elegies in Oak

Speaking of family, I once had parents too. Taken for granted until the day my mother was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). For those unfamiliar with this think Stephen Hawking, notable exception; most wither, locked in and destined  to survive maybe two years. That was some time ago now but the fallout affected my father badly. Depression and a spiral into emptiness that cost him his days upon the earth not many years after. Alas I was not near enough to witness the end of either. But taken for granted is still the prompt in this. I was lax, make certain you are not.

I leave you with an exert from my book. Again this was posted some time ago but the inspiration for this scene is, perhaps, now explained. It is about my protagonist Rose, witnessing the end of her father; it resonates with my thoughts on taken for granted…write what you know…

Excerpt from The Assent of Rose Marie Gray

This version is not the final proof…just saying!

 

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This post is very self reflecting towards the end. It asks not for sympathy or condolence but is more a plea to those reading to not miss moments of family and friends. More importantly this weeks challenge has been tough, very tough. Looking back and realising gratitude has been absent until it is too late.

The default mind, unmindful and negligent.

I bid you all a pleasant week; be mindful, kind and grateful.

 


 

© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted in: Kindness Challenge

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Former research scientist the became the primary stay at home Dad for two children. Writing has always been factual in the previous life but always had a fascination with fiction but never been brave enough to develop it further. A comfort zone thing. Science writing is familiar, fiction is not. Hopefully the blog will provide more confidence and lead to a change in career writing from home around children!

61 Comments

    • Thank you indeed! As you may have gathered my primary blogging is around writing. That said, mindfulness and kindness are also things I do post about now and then because they are powerful things that everybody should practice. How much better would the world be if that were the case! I stalk indeed pop over to yours shortly 😊

    • You are most welcome. I love engaging new (to me) blogs 😊

      Thank you for stopping by too!

  1. I wanted to catch up on some of this happiness series, and I’m glad I was able to make time! 😀 I won’t lie — this post has unsettled me some because I’ve kinda been estranged from my family for quite some time. I talk with them here and there on the occasional holiday, but I’ve always been a creature who loves her solitude — at the risk keeping connected. I think I’ve coddled myself into taking them for granted, and you’ve opened my eyes to that.
    I’m tempted to blame our “if you do for me than I do for you” mentality on being Western. In the East there is much more communal focus. If one suffers we all suffer. And also you’re right: Internet culture almost rewards “like and like back.”
    Thank you for the insights. 😀

    • Thank you Elune, very kind of you to comment openly on how it made you feel. The posts are, by and large, self reflective. My thoughts on how I look at my world. However, they are also intended to make other people self reflect a bit too. Especially in areas we take for granted. I know sometimes life experiences have great impact but how we view them can also affect our own well being too. Sometimes we skew things badly, maybe even trying to justify things to remain in a comfort zone rather than stepping out of it and taking control back. I’m glad it has made you think about things in a new, or different way. And thank you for such a thoughtful post too 😊

  2. Just wow, Gary. Sobering thoughts, indeed.
    Thank you for the reminder to never take people for granted. I keep hearing this- maybe I better listen up!
    Oh yes, my 2 girls are in their late 20s now. Almost unbelievable!!
    It’s a good thing that you’re pausing now to enjoy them, and reflect.
    How has it been a week since I’ve visited??
    I’ve been extremely busy is an excuse, but also a real reason.
    Going on to read some Rose now.
    I did miss ya!

    • Thanks Melinda, like you I’ve taken a bit of a timeout this week to catch up on things and try and develop a schedule that makes time work better…ish…sort of…alas it’s put me behind on this weeks challenge post…however it may not be possible to complete it today 🤕
      Busy is very good though 😊

  3. This post is very thought provoking and touchy! A bit more personal and I think most readers love reading personal stories, as they feel more connected. I realized , your earlier posts and excerpts have also been inspired from your personal experiences. After all, that is what influences us the most! I cannot agree more with each and every point of yours. The act of kindness without expectations is very hard to find these days. I can say only parents have the ability to offer such kindness to their children, because of their selfless love for them! While kids don’t realize the importance of gratitude for their parents during their early stages, they definitely will, once they become parents. Or sometimes, it might get too late, even before we realize! But sooner or later, realization is meant to happen and is needed, to kill the zombie mind! 😀 I keep using this word quite often nowadays, thanks to you! 🙂

    Thank you such meaningful and useful offering! Thank you for reminding the need for kindness sans expectations, which people keep forgetting/ ignoring in spite of being wise!

    • Thank you my friend for such a lovely response. You’re quite right a lot of my posts are personalised, especially the kindness ones and memoirs. My book is also cathartic in nature too. Write what you know type of thing, might even be where my narrative voice rests better too. Although in fiction I become the characters so even that gets personalised in some respects…very schizoid 🙃 Kindness without expectation is the only way I can define a truly kind act, anything else is done under obligation to the receiver to reciprocate and that’s more of a selfish act (my opinion at least). Quite right about kids but I can’t hold that against them as sooner or later they will have kids and then realise what we also realised after we grew up! The zombie mind is a terrible beast too…sitting there saying comfort zone, safe here, don’t do that. It lies, kicks and screams to stay put and opposes mindfulness viciously….terrible beast that 😱
      I agree too, we do need reminding because its the simple day to day things that become habitual and taken for granted. They are also the ones that can drag us down too as chores. A case of be wise, be mindful 😇

      • Haha, true! Writing is an outcome of our experiences. An act is called kindness only when it is done without expectations. May be offering to help or acting like being kind while expecting something in return may not be termed kindness. Great post once again! You’re close to completing this challenge and you did a great job!! 🙂 🙂

      • True! An act can be called kindness only when it is offered without any expectations. If any help or favor is done with some sort of expectations, it cannot be termed kindness. Great post and you’re doing great through out this challenge.Last few to go!! 🙂 🙂

        • That is something I’m struggling with at the moment. People thinking they demand kindness just because they know you. Several have told me I should say no more often which, for me is hard. Then again it’s not self kindness to allow anyone to insist on things being done for them. It has to be unconditional otherwise there is no balance. Might be why people become toxic to ones own movement forward? This kindness thing is not only in principle but also quite challenging sometimes 🤔

  4. I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. Go to my page and check out the guidelines. I hope you’ll accept! roardtoharmony.com/2016/06/14/2016-liebster-blog-award/

    • Oh my…that’s the third nomination 😇
      Thank you so much for that…I’m currently doing a kindness challenge which has two weeks left to run including this one. I shall link all my nominees for this one together and somehow try and decide how to manage all the questions. Will pop over and check yours right now 😊

  5. Awww Gary I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t saddened while reading your post. Funny thing is, I had various tabs opened and meant to click on a different one first as I read them in the order posted. I opened all of the tabs this morning and no longer remembered the order. As I was reading I thought that’s odd, the way this person writes reminds me of Gary. Then I realized I was on your blog. It’s funny because not long ago I mentioned reading your posts with your inflections and tone and it totally came out in this post even though I didn’t know as I read that you were the author.

    I’m sorry that this was a tough focus for you. While you can’t make up for lost time, I’m glad that you’ve come to this realization you speak of before further time has passed without having made this discovery.

    We haven’t talked in about a week so I’m glad that I was finally able to read this even though I’m a bit delirious because it’s way past my bedtime therefore why I didn’t realize I was on your blog, well that and the person’s blog I thought I was on has the same theme.

    • That was actually quite funny…thinking I had a doppleganger residing in another blog… The multiple links was part of my thought processes…the two memoirs were difficult to write and several years before I put them up….I would like to write an anthology of those some day.
      It was tough because those friends were very special people that I’d known from around five years of age. But looking st the past with positive remembrance is better than looking at it and forever grieving…well, that’s how I’m trying to think of it at least.
      Thanks you for your hilarity though…seems the madness is catching 🙃
      I must find this weeks link now too !!

  6. Hi – saw your post in the community pool and thought I would say hi. I enjoyed your post and like the idea of a kindness challenge! James

    • Hi James, many thanks for popping over and for taking the time to read this. The link to this challenge is at the top of the post. Niki is a wonderful blogger and friend so feel free to check it out. I’m not aware of any time restrictions on starting and spreading the message far and wide is no bad thing at all. 😊
      I shall return your kindness in a moment and come visit your blog too 🙃

  7. Thought provoking reflection Gary and I have to agree with you, being a parent really does change us for the better, making us selfless. I enjoyed your post and could relate to much here.

    • Thank you Miriam….found this one tough though….lots of thoughts and memories..hence the links to posts…I’m glad you found it relatable too….unless it made you nostaligic and sad !!!

        • True…but rethinking nostalgia more positively is actually quite powerful if previously it was all negative… mostly… 🤔

  8. As always, I am astounded by your gift for writing and connecting….and moved by how beautiful your heart and soul are….and, I am so proud of you….you have a gift for using your gift to give so much, on so many levels….more and more, you are going to have a bigger and bigger impact on the world….this post was exceptional…thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Crumbs Truly, that’s rather overwhelming…I’m settling for maybe a foot in the door of a potential agent…realising an actual book in my hand and the words ‘I made that’ would suffice. If people like my wordcraft in that world half as much as insights into mindfulness then I’d be happy at that….there are only two weeks left of that challenge now so these types of post might be replaced by things not quite what people following these will like…acid test I guess !

      Thank you so much though for your kind thoughts as ever 🙃

      • To my mind, it’s not what you write about, it is how you write, how you express yourself…that doesn’t change…you have such a fantastic flare for writing…I’m looking forward to the variety you are adept at delivering 🙂

        • I never looked at it that way 🤔 Be nice if a publishing method was coming to mind though…it’s doing my head in 🙃 As are school exams…two weeks left!!

    • Thank you my friend…you are quite right, you don’t…but the closer such things are the more I, at least, tend to overlook them…this has been a most useful challenge for me to partake in

  9. I agree that giving with the expectation of return, isn’t so much kindness in it’s purest form, but a favor onto another. This being Father’s Day, I’m reminded of my father who always gave what he could, and sometimes what he couldn’t. When my father passed away, I learned that we can never take our loved ones for granted. Our time together is never long enough, so appreciate it while we can.

    • Well said indeed. Life has a habit of speeding by and sometimes we need to pause and breathe. Reflect on the good, not the negative. My over arching theme in these seems to be taking things for granted…I never expected it to take me down that route at the start of the challenge. I’m also amazed at how much synergy to grow from responses and comments. This gives me a great sense of belonging to a community…albeit in a global blogosphere. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your reflection 😊

      • The pleasure was all mine 🙂 I also realized that today isn’t Father’s Day 🙂 Like you, I feel as though I’m part of a community here on WP. Something else that I’m grateful for 🙂

        • Here I think it’s next week (Fathers Day that is). I should know for sure but dates I am terrible with 🙃 When you started blogging did you ever expect that? I remember last December when I considered putting up some of my writing that it would be a hard place, full of established blogs and people thinking go away newbie…how wrong was I….grateful is the word if choice here too 😊

          • That’s a really good point. I set up my account the latter part of last August. I had absolutely no idea that this blogging community, which I now find myself a part of, even existed. The time since then has flown 🙂

            • Ooh relativity and time….I speak about that a lot in assorted posts. You are dead right though, I went live in January and suddenly it’s half way to next January….how, when, why? What do I advocate all the time?…set time aside to breathe and just pause… Must remember that 🙃

  10. We have a similar view on gratitude and duty performed without any expectation in the the Bhagavad-Gita (a sacred text of the Hindus). It’s been long standing belief in our culture that’s been deeply ingrained in me since childhood.
    I loved reading the rest of your post. Although saying that being grateful while you can still appreciate the things to be grateful for is easy, we hardly ever do so. We read about it, perhaps follow it for a day or two and forget about it. I think that when it comes to a deep emotion such as this, we should be mindful and make it a habit.

    • Wow, thank you for the info on the Hindi text. I love hearing about other cultural beliefs and systems. It seems to me underneath everything is a core belief in just being kind to one another. You are quite right too…reforming a new habit out of an old one is very difficult. Forgetting after a few days is all too common. That’s where mindfulness needs to be practised. It helps keep a sense of now and focus on what’s really important. Easy to say hard to do…but when something is gone, it can never come back. That’s the thought that caught me out whilst writing the two memoirs. I never expected those days to ever end. Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate it 😊

    • Entirely agree Daisy, expectations change the balance and create issues that don’t need to be there. Shame it’s tajpken me so long to rationalise this 🤔 Still, better late than never 😊 Thank you for reading x

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