Motivating people to practice intentional acts of kindness

Boldness In Kindness

(That's Phony!)

"I couldn't put my arm around her and hug her if I wasn't feeling like it. That would be phony."

If it's phony you shouldn't do it, is the logic behind this. Anything that is done when you don't feel like it is phony, is another part of the reasoning. Doing something that I don't feel like doing makes me uncomfortable. Therefore, it isn't genuine. Therefore, it should be avoided.

Now imagine you're a golfer but not a good one. You finally decide to take some lessons even though you've been playing for fifteen years. The pro says, "You're holding the club wrong. You must change your grip radically if you hope to improve." So you put your hands as he instructs and you swing at a ball. It feels awkward and unnatural. "I can't hit that way, it's phony! It makes me very uncomfortable. I don't feel right this way."

Obviously, however, if you're going to improve you have to endure a period of discomfort until it begins to feel good.

That's how it is with the hug in the opening quotation. If the hug is appropriate, needed and possible, it should be given, regardless of the discomfort the hugger may feel. With practice it may not feel so bad, even good.

Paying compliments, speaking up, thanking people, are not to await our feelings. They are part of giving. Part of being a responsible person toward others. They may be more a matter of will than emotions. More duty than feelings. This conscientious approach to others is essential in creating a healing community. "Love One Another!" is not amended by the words "when you feel like it."

I remember a man at a State Hospital. His I.Q. was incredibly low. So low I wasn't bright enough to communicate clearly with him. After each worship service he came up and said, "Very good. Very good." Even though I knew he didn't understand a word of the sermon, I found myself cheered by his words.

I doubt that doing good, helping someone else, cheering another person even when you don't feel like it can ever be called phony. Immeasurable kindness and healing is possible through supportive actions which arise willingly from people who are determined to care about others. In spite of uncomfortable feelings!

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Dr. James Kok

Dr. James Kok is the founder of the Care and Kindness Campaign