On Kindness


Of all the qualities that augment good in the world, I believe kindness is number one. Kindness is a doorway to the heart. It is something we learn (or not) from childhood. If we have not been treated kindly, we have to make it a conscious practice. Kindness begets kindness.

So many children today suffer from neglect or abuse. I worry for our future that the children we are raising do not have the modeling or training to grow compassion for the world around them.

Experience has taught me that the things we have lacked in our own childhood often become the focus of our learning later in life. I have not always felt kind, or acted kindly, but it is my intention now to be kind as much of the time as possible. When I fall short it is usually because I have neglected to take good care of myself.

This morning as I meditated in my garden I felt the soft sea air around me, and watched the first sunlight fill the tops of trees. I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular when the word kindness dropped in. Nature was teaching me. Tears of gratitude spilled down my cheeks as I remembered the mantra which my late brother, Richard, sent me several years ago. I invite you to join me in saying it every day.


May I be safe and protected.
May I be free from fear.
May I be peaceful.
May I live with ease and with kindness.

How do you practice kindness?

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21 Responses to On Kindness

  1. Phyll says:

    Honey, Sunny, Sweetie Pie, Simba, Syndi, Sweetie Pooh, Tiggy and Dancer are my wisest and kindest teachers. Their examples stay within my heart, their presence and spirits inspire sweetness and light, as my role models and mentors. Animals and Nature are God’s truest teachers on kindness. My love and gratitude to all.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      You’ve got quite a bunch of kind friends Phyll! And I know from what little I know of them that the teaching goes both ways.

  2. Calmness of glassy water, warm smiles that are universal,animals that just sense your gentle spirit. Kindness is so vital to our balancing act in this life. Being a good listener is a nice way to practice kindness.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      What lovely images Anni. I agree especially that being a good listener is an act of kindness, as well as curiosity. Listening to another deeply is like a blessing. Perhaps there aught to be a world wide month of kindness, and then add a month each year…In 12 years we would have everyday, kindness…

  3. We just returned from a week along the Coast of Maine, including a wonderful day in Acadia National Park. We thought of you and your family and the great gifts that you have given to all of us. I saw a young girl helping an elderly man on a cane climb over some rocks to see the views. One example of a simple act of kindness that we see every day, if only we open our eyes and watch.

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Oh I wish you had called us! We would have loved to see you! Hopefully we can have you over in Vermont after Labor Day. I love the image you shared of the young girl helping an elderly man over some rocks to see the view.

  4. Jill says:

    I love this. I am printing this out and keeping it on my bulletin board. Near the photo of my dear Dad. Thank you. 🙂

  5. Pennie Beach says:

    What a lovely mantra, Eileen! Thank you for sharing it.

  6. Richard Trenner says:

    “Thank you kindly” for these precious words, Eileen.

    I’d like to share four thoughts….

    You’ve written about a feeling, a belief, and an act that are incomparably important. Kindness is the most essential ingredient in one’s relations with others and (as I think you’ve often implied in these armchair letters) with oneself. It’s also an essential ingredient in relations among groups, communities, and—yes—among nations. (By the way, I’m awfully tired of “tea,” so how about a political party called “The Kind Party”?)

    I believe that, to become deeply kind, it helps to have suffered.

    I like to think of kindness as “love on an errand.”

    Finally, from my esteemed Henry James, here are four sentences—shining brightly in their simplicity, rhythm, and wisdom—that he wrote to his nephew Willie James in 1902:

    “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

    Thank you kindly, Mr. James.


    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I’m inspired by your thought that “Kindness is love on an errand.” Really beautiful. Thank you.

  7. Barb B says:

    The photo of the two girls is precious. Thank you for sharing it….and the mantra.

  8. Matt S. says:

    As explained by Chang to Robert Conway, the one rule in Shangri-La, James Hilton’s utopian society high in the Himalayas, was: “Be Kind!”

    That was it. Full stop. The entire underpinnings of their society…

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      How I wish we could imbue our society with kindness. But I guess it begins, one person at a time. You are a good model of kindness.

  9. I love your blog on Kindness-thank you!! Like Phyll, I adore animals too. I was recently at a shopping center and noticed out of my rear view mirror a lovely dog sniffing the ground in an agitated manner and moving fast. My gut told me this dog is lost. Got out of the car, grabbed him by the collar (had i.d.); called a nearby pet store to bring me a leash–they did and became my “rescue team.” I called but the owners didn’t answer their phone. Store staff got on line and found the address..about half a mile away, so I decided to walk him home, as we approached he pulled hard on the leash. The wife answered the door and was gobsmacked and grateful! I was happy and went on my way. The Dalai Lama once said: “My religion is very simple–my religion is kindness.”

  10. eileenrockefeller says:

    What a great story Louise. And so typical of you. I wish we could clone you, 100 times over! love to you and your big kind heart.

  11. sandmansand says:

    It’s hard to be kind when we imprison ourselves with so much hate and audacity. Forgiveness is the key to realizing this prison we put ourselves in. We build walls to protect ourselves from others hate and we reinforce those walls, making them stronger and stronger; eventually trapping ourselves in our own fortress.

    We have to learn to forgive. To forgive others. And most importantly, we have to learn to forgive ourselves.

    Once we learn how to forgive, we master ourselves and we are able to grow up and mature. With that growing up and maturity comes the realization you I believe you speak of – Kindness to others.

  12. eileenrockefeller says:

    You have touched upon the anchor. Thank you for your wisdom. But even before we practice forgiveness, which takes a practice, it’s not a bad thing to hold kindness as a goal. All the best, and blessings to you.

  13. eileenrockefeller says:

    I agree that forgiveness comes before kindness. Thanks for the reminder.

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