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Karen Maleck-Whiteley: Try acting with kindness as an alternative to stress

In a stressful world a little kindness can go a long way

Posted: February 5, 2009 11:43 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Let us forget not to be kind. I know that sentence seems to be worded in a strange way. That's because it is a line from a piece penned more than a century ago by Mary Stewart. I am a member of the Zonta Club of Santa Clarita, which is a part of Zonta International. Zonta is a service organization dedicated to advancing the status of women locally and worldwide. At the end of every one of our business meetings, we recite together something called the Collect - this very piece written by Mary Stewart in 1904.

Keep us, Oh God, from pettiness;

let us be large in thought, in word, in deed.

Let us be done with fault finding and leave off self-seeking.

May we put away all pretense and meet each other face to face, without self-pity and without prejudice.

May we never be hasty in judgment and always be generous.

Let us take time for all things; make us to grow calm, serene, gentle.

Teach us to put into action our better impulses, straight forward and unafraid.

Grant that we may realize
it is the little things that create differences;
that in the big things of life we are at one.

And may we strive to touch and to know the great, common human heart of us all.

And, Oh, Lord God, let us forget not, to be kind.

Whenever I hear or read it, it makes me think. It sounds so old fashioned, worded in its prayer-like way.

Maybe that's why it strikes me so. How easy it is for us to be caught up in our own agendas, our egos, our judgements and fears. I'll admit that I've called other drivers not-so-nice names and blamed them for missing the light (fault-finding), sent an angry e-mail back in response to one I've received (not my best impulse), and that I have been known to make assumptions about what people mean or are thinking (hasty judgements). I am sure you can relate. NONE of us is perfect - we are human and some of this bound to be a part of life. When we are in this mode, we are generally coming from a place of fear and anger.

The good news is that it is just as human to celebrate the best in us. We are creatures that care, who are capable of amazing contributions, seeing the best in others, and making life better for ourselves and others. When we shift our focus to this part of us all, it feels better to navigate through the day. And we don't have to do this with grand plans and actions. We can do this by concentrating on changing our thoughts about others in seemingly small situations we encounter as we go along. You can focus on any positive quality you want, but I find kindness works just as well as any. When we are in this mode, we are coming from a place of compassion and love.

Try enacting kindness for the next few weeks, and see what happens. 

* Find a way to remind yourself of being kind every morning (put it on your mirror in the bathroom, or tape it to your car steering wheel)

* Start to notice where you can apply kindness to shift your thoughts and actions. Here are some examples:

* Take a compassionate point of view of the actions of others. Think about other possibilities for why someone might have done or said what they did. Maybe the other driver is not really a rude idiot, but simply did not see you or has a lot on his mind. Maybe your son is not really ignoring you for the umpteenth time, but is distracted because he is worried about something. Perhaps the "control freak" you work for is really scared about losing her job. What are some of the reasons you do things?

* Look for small ways to be kind every day. Let someone merge in or go first. Carry something for someone. Change your approach when you are angry and want to yell. Give feedback in the way you would want to hear it.

* Find at least three ways to be kind to yourself. Stop beating yourself up over your diet - it actually hinders your progress. Take a break. Buy yourself flowers or a small gift. Pamper yourself with a bubble bath.

I can tell you that I am working on putting this in practice for myself. I think it is a perfect way to celebrate this month that is traditionally dedicated to love, and I hope you'll join me in spreading around some kindness. And if you would be so kind, I would love to hear how it works for you.

P.S. I finished writing this article a couple of hours ago, and I just had to add this because it really happened (I swear!). Just now, there was a knock on my door. When I opened it, there were two smiling kids I didn't know on my porch. They had come from a car that was stopped at my curb. They just wanted to tell me I had left the lights on in my car in the driveway. I thanked them for their kindness. Amazing how this stuff works.

Karen Maleck-Whiteley is a certified hypnotherapist, coach, speaker, and author. Karen is also the co-owner of Balance Point Spa in Canyon Country. If you would like more information or assistance in changing your approach in life through hypnotherapy or coaching, you can contact Karen at (661) 252-0650. Find out more by visiting,,, or www.Five4Me/
(free downloads). For more information about Zonta, contact Karen, or visit


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