The Ferris Bueller soundtrack is playing on Spotify, Twist and Shout sounds so good on a Saturday.
The sun has finally decided to show up, and I am sitting here, fingers to the ready- heart on a wire and full to the very edge of the teacup with feeling. Is it a safe time to write? The new discovery for me is- yes. These are the times when the writing comes easily, flowing from brain to page like an overzealous child- all vulnerability has sidestepped when this takes place. She has taken off, shaking her head in disgust. I ignore her. We need to give her a name. She is the hider of the Freak Flag, she doesn’t like it when I fly it. We shall name her Sargeant Tiffany. She’s no fun.
It is a big week for us. For me.
It either has the potential to go either way- a crazy game of Sliding Doors and what’s behind door 27? Shall we peek? Let’s not think about it. Let us think about it non-stop. Distraction, distraction…Hello, Monday you wonderous creature.
There are several options on offer Monday at the Hospital. Are you ready Madame?
Option 1: This revolting thing in my brain has actually completely stabilized, which means is still sitting there like the terminator with its finger on the trigger, but the finger stopped getting itchy.
Option 2: The bugger has gone. I repeat the A-hole has left the building. See you later alligator, astalavista. Like a magical butterfly and the power of all healing, it is completely gonesky, which means I can just die like mostly everyone else- unexpectedly.
Option 3: It has sprouted some new leaks which means more brain surgery. This means getting really fat again because of steroids. This is not an option. I love a good rolly polly belly like anyone else, but enough already.
Option 4: Some wonder human somewhere on this planet has come up with a way to fix it. Let’s call him Bob.
Option 5: I don’t go, and I pretend everything is perfectly peachy. This is a very tempting albeit stupid. I have done this multiple times. It stops me thinking about the D word. No one likes that word. No matter how enlightened we believe we are. No one likes a D word dropper.
Option 6: I’m still pondering on this one…I will keep you posted. At the moment it resembles smoking a joint with Willie Nelson and playing with a basket of baby Sloths. I can’t technically smoke a joint so I might be on rolling duties for Willie. That’s ok. I can roll a mean paper (don’t judge me, I had to roll my dad’s cigarettes ok?)
This resilience thing is mad.
Yesterday I stood at my sink, elbow deep in this beautiful new grandma sink, fired in France, beautiful fireclay, deep and shiny. I hated washing dishes, now it’s like a lovely bath. Blue eyes stood next to me drying the dishes.
“I don’t want to die.”
“I don’t want you to die either.”
“Well, that’s good. Because if you did, that would kind of suck. Lucky you still like me.”
“How can I not? You make me laugh.”
“It’s not very fair any of this is it?”
“I am feeling sorry for myself.”
“I just want it to be fixed and never think about it anymore. It’s taking up too much space in my brain.” I am good at puns.
Then Hilltop Hoods Cosby sweater starts playing, and he does the dance that makes me laugh too hard. There is some pelvic thrusting that is slightly off rhythm and this thing he does with his butt.
How did we become this resilient?
We talk about it a bit. As we get older, the conflicts between humanity become more obvious. The bigger things mean more to us. The need for emotional intelligence suddenly becomes the focus and not the mortgage. It occurs to me that the friction of humanity is the cause of joy and pain.
Echoes of the inflictions of childhood build walls of muscle and grit- a toolbox of tricks that can protect us and then trip us up. All in one- a double doozy. The perseverance and seeking of peace propel us forward if we are brave enough to break open the armor and bare our skin. Telling old Sargent Tiffany of vulnerability police that it is ok to show vulnerability and truth.
It is vulnerability and truth and being aware of the silent witness within that breaks us into freedom. Deep huh? Hey don’t analyse mine, check out your own muscles, those suckers are there, along with a peacepipe and a marching band. So many situations rely on those muscles, and then we need to break free of them. All sorts of circumstances, in all walks of life.
The opposite of this is building a romance with defense.
Gathering evidence to keep ourselves safe. The internal bodyguard becomes a jailer. Whispering platitudes, distractions, and conflicts on replay. Playing back all the old vinyl with their scratches and grooves. Maybe it’s time to sharpen the needle, to play the real music and stop whistling everyone else’s tune.
I have realized I don’t like significance. Weird huh? I love it when other people wear it like a beautiful cape or jacket- but it’s never looked delicious on me. It makes my skin feel ick.
I do not want to be significant. The feeling creates anger within. Why?
If I am sick- it is significant. If I suddenly become miraculously well- this is also significant.
Both matter. Both have weight. I don’t like the weight. I learned very young that importance of not being too significant- to go under the radar. I don’t do it very well, but it is a primal part of my core belief system. These feelings of deep anger are being triggered by the romance of defense. So I write these words fiercely as if I am paddling as fast as I can in rapids, something pushes me forward. The anger is not good. It makes me angry. The irony is deafening.
The cognitive pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together. Stealth mode can kick in at any time, so watch it. I cannot control it.
Tiffany just sat down in front of me looking very dazed and confused, she just dropped her badge on the table and asked me why I was writing this piece of communication? Who is it for?
The introvert-extrovert pendulum is swinging like a crazy monkey on a swing with a banana.
I am not an angry human as a rule. It doesn’t sit very well in my body. But I am a writer. So what does one do in this situation? She writes, prints and rolls it up, placing into a very groovy hipster bottle, it is some kind of pharmacy bottle from the 1940’s, pop a cork in the end and throws it out into the sea, watching the waves take it to whoever feels they may like to read it. I just wrote about myself in the third person. It’s a Ferris Bueller thing to do.
Then I get off the car in the middle of the street, the marching band and street parade has gone home.
So I go to my candle, and I pray. The anger has gone. Just like that. With a request and a chord of silver shooting to the architect. I am grateful for life. A big fat full life. The little version of blue eyes comes out and asks if I would like a cup of tea. The middle blessing is smiling getting ready for a party, very handsome. The eldest, the strong and vibrant young woman is finishing an essay. We did ok. We did more than ok. We are here and that sun is shining.
I stop typing, and then there’s that Ferris soundtrack. Hey ustj-ay no-ay het-ay- uietqay- does anyone have Willie Nelson’s phone number?
Egos. We all have them. In fact, egos have become a subject that more and more new-thought leaders and spiritual teachers are focusing in on – inviting us to separate from, transcend above, and live without.
A personal fan of introspective, spiritual work myself, I can appreciate the works of Eckhart Tolle, Debbie Ford, and many others who have written about observing the ego, which swings like a pendulum between inferiority and superiority. It mirrors my faith in Christianity which points directly to the conflict we’ve all experienced since the beginning of time – PRIDE.
The ego, as suggested in many works, is perceived as our “identity.” And while my Christian faith calls me to be “in this world, not of it” I have to regularly practice ways to express myself gracefully. Though there are numerous ways to define and understand ego and prideful positions, why not add humor to such humbling practices?
A crass and comical way to observe the ego head-on from a place of neutrality and even lightheartedness. When we see our egos as more of an “activity” taking place within these “God pods” we are scooting around in, we invite in observation and inquiry versus self-judgment and criticism of others. Egos, much like farts, are simply a part of the human experience. Clearly, God has a “sense” of humor also.
This new idea of “conscious” living is far more than just being mentally “here” – it is about being spiritually “present” and mindful of how we show up and express ourselves in each fleeting moment, cognizant of how to speak to those around us, as well as, internally to ourselves.
Awareness around one’s pride is the quickest way to experience resolve. To make this practice of mindfulness easier to “digest,” here are a few brief theories that will help you identify the activity of ego within you and others. No different than the sometimes abrupt and offensive activity of farting, egos share a very similar M.O:
We all have them, and it’s easier to tolerate our own than others.
We have our own unique brand – some “digest” information or experiences better than others. Some environments can be extremely offensive and upset those who are highly sensitive to specific topics.
Clearing the air can be difficult after either is “aired,” typically putting a significant distance between us and our loved ones/friends/fellow beings.
Both are known to cause a set of rosy cheeks – only with ego, they are topside. Expressing either can cause embarrassment – for all parties involved.
They both share the ‘Silent But Deadly’ expression! C’mon, we know that ‘stinkin’-thinkin’’ internal dialogue we all have that we are “better than another” or “not good enough.” Both can be toxic and held back when not able to express them in a safe space.
Often, when we express either, we are likely quick to blame, not to claim.
All too often we point out and laugh at others for their abrupt explosions of fury or flatulence, but rarely do we acknowledge openly and humbly in the times that we have done the same, owning “It was me.”
Pffttt… Just hot air. You know, those moments when you think there’s solid proof of someone’s incompetence, yet really our perceptions of them are proven completely inaccurate. Sometimes, whether it’s an ego or a fart, it expresses as nothing more than hot air.
Sharting is possible with both. Ever had one of those moments, when you swear you have self-control and you won’t explode; however, you just can’t take it any longer, and you get diarrhea… of the mouth (always a mess to clean up). This often happens when we have held back our opinions, rather than sharing them over time, then wind up expressing it all in an explosive rant.
Letting both go creates inner peace. As human beings, we are meant to express. It is human nature. Both activities of farting and ego chatter are necessary to fully experience this thing we call “life.”
The invitation here is to consider filtering before we fire. This act of observing the ego and allowing discernment before discharge is deemed “Conscious Cropdusting” and may just be the answer to world peace.
Here’s to expressing ourselves through many unique forms in a loving and less-offensive way, creating an environment that is less toxic and more tolerable for all humankind.
There is nothing I like more than meeting a person who surprises you with a character that is refreshing and far from mundane. This interview with Fr. Rod has created a joyful series of conversations that spark the mind. The most refreshing facet of this man and his beautiful wife Kerry is that even though at times I am sure they fear the backlash that comes with being a messenger, they march on. They march on not because they revel in it. They march on because it is a calling. It is a calling that they cannot ignore. It’s the stuff that your soul emits in unison with your heart so strongly, that to ignore it would be emotionally dishonest. This is why the congregation has grown, this is why many Australians are intrigued and captivated by the message Fr. Rod echoes, its quite simple: compassion and kindness for everyone. Not everybody agrees. Is it easy? No way. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
This boy from the Hunter Valley, the son of conservative country party graziers is now the voice of many. In Part Two we chat about the lighter things in life; cubby houses, Lucifer, climate change, Netflix and so much more…
Kirsten: Ok, so now I am shifting the subject, but if there’s music that’ll get your foot tapping what would it be?
Fr. Rod: Can you believe I am not a huge music fan? (I audibly gasp) But, if there were one it would be Jazz. And improvised, very highly improvised Jazz. I think the biggest-selling Jazz album ever was Miles Davis and Arlo Guthrie, and they came together and basically just cut this thing like nothing in the day in these jams sessions.
I was actually out having drinks last Thursday night, and the guy at the piano was the guy who composed the music for the Compass documentary, and I asked him if he could play this because he’s a very clever musician. So he started playing it.
Kirsten: Okay, so I ask everyone this question as we always get the most interesting responses. As a child did you like tree houses or cubby houses? What would be your preference?
Rod: I’m a cubby house fan because I don’t like heights.
I can remember, we must’ve bought a new refrigerator or something at one stage when I was little kid. So, I created this cubby house out of it, and I spent a good couple of years in this box.
Kirsten: (Laughs) There you go.
Rod: But I did climb trees from time to time. I’m not fond of heights, though.
Kirsten: If you could meet with your 25-year-old self and give him a piece of advice, what would it be?
Fr. Rod: Don’t drink so much. Don’t waste a lot of time, money, and brain cells and use that money to travel. I kind of regret I didn’t, I should have. I had an opportunity to go overseas when I was 20, and I never did, and I still regret that to this day. I wanted to travel in my late twenties and early thirties.
Kirsten: What made you decide, was there a moment, was it a series of events, which lead you to be in service to God?
Fr. Rod: Well, there was no Damascus road. In fact, it was a long journey of resistance to an insistent call and people sort of encouraged me to be a priest and me agreeing at each step along the process to engage in that. At the same time, I was totally expecting that I’d be rejected by the Church and so I found myself, you know, the day of my ordination, not really understanding how I had got there. And there’s a sense in which I’m still in that process. I’m daring the Church to throw me out.
Kirsten: So I take it you’d have to walk a pretty fine line.
Fr. Rod: Sometimes.
Fr. Rod: While I’m accused of being progressive, I am, I think fairly theologically orthodox and especially regarding patristics in the early Church years. I know I’m not seen as orthodox by contemporary Protestant conservatives, but they’re not really orthodox in terms of the Great Theologians.
Kirsten: But I think too, one of the reasons people find you progressive is because you guys have a real social presence. You are literally streaming online. You’re on Facebook for starters and churches don’t usually have a strong following on social media. This is not your usual stiff upper lip, cause no waves Anglican church!
Fr. Rod: 150 followers is the average for many churches.
Kirsten: Exactly! You’re up front and center, you do it very well, but it’s also the way you explain theology. It’s very friendly, it makes sense, it’s logical, and it’s not stale. People want to listen to you.
Could you tell me a little bit about your passion for climate change?
Fr Rod: Yeah I have to say we have been very focused on the last few years on refugees. It’s taken over a bit of the agenda for obvious reasons, and in more recent times focus has been on the marriage equality debate. I am hoping this will be resolved quickly and we can get on with other things. Note: this interview happened before the wonderful marriage equality results
I mean, the climate is the ultimate question for us, for our generation, my children and my grandchildren’s generation. It’s going to be the defining subject over the next 100 years. It’s the defining ethical subject; it’s the defining scientific and economic question. It’s the new paradigm. We are the economic paradigm in which we have been in for the last 70 years. It’s crumbling after the GFC. We’ve propped it back up again, but it’s crumbling, and the emerging paradigm has to be the environmental and ecological paradigm. It’ll be the new economy.
Kirsten: The new economy?
Fr. Rod: Yes it has to be. It’s farcical to watch the old right clinging to their coal philosophy when even AGL are saying, um no, that’s old, that’s the old we aren’t interested anymore. They know money is in renewables and clean energy! You know we are so close to this renewable technology being introduced, so why on earth would you invest in coal fired?
But there will be ethical and moral questions to ask in this process, and I think this is where theologians need to be.
KM: You are bringing back the cool. Reminding us of why we look to women and men that question everything and bring our ethics and what we stand for to the forefront. Which leads me to this part of my questioning: Why is it seemingly so uncool sometimes to be Christian? I said to someone at a dinner party that it seems to be very zen and modern for people to be Hindi, Buddhist, or even Zoroastrian, Muslim, anything other than Christian. But it seems to be very uncool to be Christian; this seems a bit unfair!
Fr. Rod: Yes they seem to be the flavor don’t they? (Hearty laughter injected from my interviewee)
Fr. Rod: I think the life and teachings of Jesus, has an enormous amount to offer society. The basic doctrines of Christianity are an anchor that we let go of at our peril in that sense because we float off into this sort of nothingness. But I think we can get a bit obsessed with that side of things and not so much on the social ethics.
Kirsten: Outside of all of this theology, as a regular bloke, what do you like to do?
Fr. Rod: I don’t get much time to relax, it’s quite foreign to me! I grew up in an environment where you didn’t take holidays, and so my brain isn’t programmed in that way. Which is not a very healthy. I am not very good at relaxing, I try and take time each day to walk. I am 55 Type 2 Diabetic with high cholesterol, a very typical 55-year-Old Australian male. (more laughter)
I enjoy getting home, after a long hard day and having some cheese and bikkies, a glass of pinot noir; occasionally I get to veg out I will binge watch something on Netflix. I just finished binge-watching Lucifer.
KM: NO WAY! Are you serious? Ok, if you are watching that, I am so watching that! What did you think? (I am shocked, gaping like a goldfish and laughing).
Fr. Rod: Well it was challenging for a while because Lucifer’s Dad- God is portrayed as a very capricious character, very punishing and I was resistant to this! I am like: God’s not like this! He’s not like this! But the more I watched it; I think he is portraying God in a way in which many people see God. And while it made me uncomfortable, and I don’t believe God is like that I had to acknowledge that this is how many view God.
And you know, Lucifer is the devil, and he does kind of challenge in the show this idea of “the devil made me do it” type stuff. He comments that humans make their own choices and actions, his only job is to punish them, he doesn’t make them do anything. Not that I believe in that either, but I have found it challenging, thought-provoking. Its the antithesis of what I believe but it reminded me of how endemic folky religion is in our culture. Because that is what a lot of people believe. I am a Game of Thrones fan.
Kirsten: Now I like you even more. (grinning) This is my all-time favorite series. We actually have a GOT night at our house with friends and eat special dessert. Seriously.
Fr. Rod: I like Tyrion Lannister, he is the archetypical human in that he is carnal, but also has a social ethic, that he actually doesn’t want people to be hurt.
Kirsten: His transformation in the show is pretty entertaining and so complex!
Fr. Rod: Yes, because he is vested in good, even though he is a drunken fornicator and even a user and abuser of women which I hold to be highly immoral and terrible. But his complexity fascinates me. I enjoy the religious metaphors in the show, the use of faith metaphor because I think that’s quite challenging too. You know, we are in the process of electing a new bishop… (and there might be a few GOT’s comments, as well as Dutton…I am leaving the next 10 minutes out, what gets said off the record stays off the record) (grin inserted).
The conversation continues in Part Three… where we discuss some serious business like Homosexuality, Kingdoms and that Heaven thing people get so hung up about.
Panic, small child panic. The only way it fades is to give my heart over to grace, surrender all and sleep. This is my prescription for a hurting heart. Fear is my enemy and yet it reminds me again of my purpose, my plight. It makes me realize that this is the condition of being human; we lapse back into the business of life and we forget, is it a fault or a necessary facet of survival?
But I cannot sleep. I am sitting on a hard plastic chair in a sterile room.
I do not like to feel vulnerable. I do not have the coping skills for it. Vulnerable on some level equals harm. Why is this? Vulnerable makes me want to tuck in my wings and go home. I do not want her to be in this room, she has to come home with us today healthy. I want to cling to her fast and sure. The words Vulnerable and Her trigger something within that makes tears form, moistening my eyes. My heart feels swollen and inflamed, just short of anger.
My internal force wants to tuck her up and take this moment away quickly and without pain – does us no good its a pointless exercise of the mother. We are sitting in a waiting room.
He told us it has grown. The growth in her Brain has grown. He is going to see what is to be done. It’s not an area they would be interested in operating on, its too deep. Too deep. What does that even mean? I’ve been told I can be too deep. Too deep is a bad thing? Yes, isn’t great. What is it then? I had too deep and I was blind and had to learn how to walk again. I had too deep and I am here still waiting for Fred to work and keep me alive each day. I’ve seen what 160 staples in my head look like.
Something comes to mind after I look at my husband’s face. His face is ashen and has turned a sickly white transparent sheen very quickly. His lips have thinned and he looks at her, looks at me, looks at the ground.
I look at my beautiful daughter; Her faith is built on a rock, and her hearts desire will come to pass, under grace and in a miraculous way is what I think as I look at her beautiful big 17 year old eyes, too wise for one so young. Nothing can defeat God, therefore nothing can defeat her. God’s plans for her are built on a rock. What was hers in the beginning, is hers now and ever will be hers. We cannot lose anything which is born from love. She is not lost to me.
I am reminded by a passage I read recently by Florence Scovel Shinn that said
“ To believe in something enough that it cannot help but manifest is to know the power of faith. Just to imagine is not enough. You must back your imaginings with every ounce of courage, love and conviction your heart can muster. This is when you will truly find peace.” I then remember a little plaque I have someone gave me when I was in rehab recovering from brain surgery that said “Be taken up and thrown into the sea, and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you”- Mark 11:22
Am I doing this now? Am I believing? Am I doing the right thing by her? How can I soothe her and him? These two parts of our whole are hurting in front of me. So I do what I am reminded of, I squeeze their hands and believe that no matter what he comes in and says- it iS GOING TO BE OK. We cannot be defeated. We are not alone, we are not vulnerable. All will be well. I back up my imaginings of what will come to pass- that no matter what he says we can handle it.
She sits in front of me, fighting back tears, and looks at us apologetically. I squeeze her hand and remind her its ok to cry and she responds in a way typical of our weird genetics (my sister and I both suffer from this) a nervous onset of giggles and a wiping of the tears, then a smile, sad but a smile. We sit there for 12 minutes knowing it has grown but as we all look at each other something is changing- we are remembering our resilience, remembering how toughened we have all become and mighty through this journey we have all been on together.
He enters the room and says that’s it all ok, he’s checked with the surgeons -the growth is within an acceptable range, unless there are any new symptoms they don’t need to see her again for twelve months. The growth could just be from two different people reading the scans or a different perspective. It’s a good outcome, don’t worry. Here are a list of her symptoms. One of them is- if she doesn’t wake up. A small amount of vomit hits the back of my throat. Like the tears, my body reabsorbs this unwanted fluid.
I fire questions at him like a Captain firing a semi automatic and he answers every one of them, some with surety, some nervously. He is a nice young man.
We try process on the way home, all of us with gusto; talking, teary, yelling, angry. Discussing accuracy, second opinions, what does this mean, that mean. How does she feel? Are we good? Yes we are good.
By the time we get home we are all exhausted. We are all relieved. She is ok. She’s going to be ok. She came home.
She does her homework.
I cook dinner, He takes out the rubbish and feeds the dogs. He hugs us all lots that night. He gives awesome hugs.
We return phone calls. How is she? She’s fine, all good for another 12 months. It cannot be explained ; this day that we have had. This confusing paradox of a day, of roses and leeches. How do we have the words when we have not yet fully processed it ourselves?
When I go to bed I close my eyes and give thanks for my family’s faith, it continually gets us through these times in tact. I am revealing so much here in this pondering it scares me, I am being vulnerable because there might be one of you out there that can understand, can feel it too and know that its going to be ok. For some reason this is why I write.
This is a message in a bottle.
This sense of faith my little tribe has is like a well of spring water in a desert. We draw from it what we need, it gives us reflection, tools and peace. I lay there and picture in my mind a big bubble made up of every color of the rainbow and inside are epic particle of feelings of peace, grace and calm and I send it out to the world asking for it go to every parent and child who is unwell.
We are on the road less travelled, but we are on it together.
I have been a very lucky vegemite. I just got back from a Family Holiday that included laughter, smooches and all the nutbag stuff that stems from being a part of our little tribe. I also got to catch up with some beautiful friends I haven’t seen in a really long time. While I was basking in the sunshine and love of these two friends, it occurred to me that in their own way they are exceptionally kind at heart. Then I started to think how lucky I was that I had so many friends that many have one thing in common- true kindness, a- go- out -of -your-way sort of kindness. Pondering on Kindness stopped me thinking about Fred and the Case of the diabolical Aneurysm. So bear with me and come along on my little escape from reality, hold my hand and lets walk together…
As parents and guardians of little humans we all strive in some way for them to be good people, to grow into being constructive adults, nice adults. The awesome thing to recognize is that all children are born good, children are naturally and intrinsically good. However once they have been in the world for a bit, environment starts to play a huge part in the formation of social skills and empathy. Some kids just seem to have a natural empathy for others that burst forwards like a water spring, whilst for others it doesn’t come so easy. How do we teach them effective skills? Is it simply by example or lesson? So what is kindness? A concept? An ideal? How do we teach it?
When we take all of these notions we have of kindness it all boils down to one question: What does that person need to assist or help them, make them feel better? We could even say that Kindness is an act of servitude to assist in either a small or large way.
In our Western environment we really do live in a convoluted world of ME, even as a kid it’s a busy place full of school, sport, curriculum, sleeping, eating, play-dates, movies, birthday parties…the list goes on, which for busy kids or just most people in general if we are honest – being kind or going out of our way for others on a daily basis isn’t a priority. Sure you can be pleasant and do nice things when the occasion arises, when it is requested or obvious, but to make Kind Acts a daily goal and a priority most likely isn’t on the agenda.
So what if we taught kids that the Kindness Formula has a necessary ripple effect that is crucial to living a healthy and happy life, as important as Vitamin D, Fresh Air and Good water? I will go one step further and say we should teach everyone. Because I don’t know about you, but there are poison spitting lumpy caterpillars in my life amongst the butterflies. (They don’t always look like caterpillars though huh?) Yup, the growed up ones we cooked earlier. Kindness doesn’t come easy to some. Some of us just have a bit of kindness lacking in our life, we’ve forgotten its important, seriously life can be bloody tough and you don’t always have the fuel in the tank to go the extra distance for another person. Or do you?
In 2010 political scientist James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and medical sociologist Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University undertook an in-depth study into group dynamics and kindness that turned up some fascinating results. They revealed that kindness is in itself contagious and has contributed to the evolution of co-operation and Groups with altruists in them will be more altruistic as a whole and more likely to survive than selfish groups. From a scientific perspective, Fowler added, these findings suggest the fascinating possibility that the process of contagion may have contributed to the evolution of cooperation.
Fowler is quoted as stating acts of giving were “tripled over the course of the experiment by other subjects who are directly or indirectly influenced to contribute more.” They suggest that behaviour of kindness spreads and is a successful element for co-operation. Not a bad suggestion for a group of humans sharing a planet together one would think? James H. Fowler, and Nicholas A. Christakis. Cooperative behaviour cascades in human social networks. PNAS, March 8, 2010 DOI:10.1073/pnas.0913149107
So, kindness is contagious and necessary for the development and evolution of humans on the planet, (whoa heavy stuff!) So it stands to reason that the act of Kindness becomes a priority and a skill we teach our kids to give them a solid foundation for social living, without of course ignoring the fact that it feels really good.
So how do we go about it? A suggestion I heard about years ago and we integrated with our kids and became my catch cry when dropping them off to school; “Don’t forget to do something kind for someone and learn something new!”
Each night on the way home or at the dinner table we would ask them what act of kindness did they do and what did they learn? If they “forgot” to do an act of kindness it then gave a chance to think about how they could have. If they did do an act of kindness and learned something new it gave them the opportunity to feel really good and positive about their actions and see what they were “putting out there” and achieve a sense of accomplishment.
Something pretty magical starts to happen; they start to see the Ripple Effect for themselves. This action and process is an illustration of how kids can plant their own seeds and in weeks to come the kindness and learning grows and comes back to them. They are rewarded in subtle ways which in turn teaches them a whole new level of social skill and inner self learning, guidance and reflection and even gratitude for other’s kindness to them. Before you know it, acts of kindness become a daily routine.
Another benefit is that it propagates a great attitude; No matter what sort of day you’ve had, as long as you’ve shown an act of kindness and learned something new it has been a Successful and Worthwhile day. Don’t forget all of the great things Goal setting does for kids too…the list goes on. This little exercise before and after school has many layers of worthwhile outcomes for emotional growth and development all stemming from one small action.
Tip: You might get some eye rolling and resistance, don’t let this deter you, trust in the process of what you are doing! You can even make some rewards if needed to kick start it a little bit. Remember that if you make it routine your kids will retain it and integrate it eventually.
Another method I tried recently that was so successful I couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried it years earlier, it certainly would have saved me a couple of near nervous breakdowns and money on wine lol. Seriously you ask no kidding around; TELL ME!
We ran a House Competition- the person who was the nicest and the kindest for a week got to choose whatever we had for dinner Friday night and a sweet of their choice. I admit I didn’t think this was the strongest of incentives, I thought only a trip to Disneyland would induce what I was asking… but what transpired was so hilariously successful it replicated a cross between the Hunger Games and Mary Poppins on steroids. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a house of boys and more often than not; regardless at this attempt I call parenting – the fighting that goes on between my offspring is so common place that the lounge-room resembles Fight Club more than the Swiss alps of Sound of Music, but I am telling you this house comp worked! After 5 days I had a non –conflicting peaceful calm house. Fighting had reduced by an estimated 70%, conflict resolution had progressively improved in epic proportions, my nerves were lovely and crazily in-tact and the house felt like an over 80s knitting party on a Sunday. I am not kidding!
The acts of kindness that went on were blissful to see, albeit at times they were faking it till they made it- (always fun to watch.) But it seems my children have enough of a competitive streak to make the challenge a success. The irony of them trying to out-do each other with kindness would have the most impressive passive aggressor bursting at the seams! But all humour aside- it worked. Surprising but true.
Lets face it, as parents we want our tribe to be kind, we all crave peace and calm and for our kids to be happy positive contributors. Perhaps a bit of well -positioned bribery laced with competition and good intention is good for the soul. I think the most important thing to remember is that we are all in this soup called life together, none of us is perfect and putting our heads and hearts together makes all the difference.
Some Questions to get you going when stumped with acts of kindness for your little humans:
Did you see someone sad at school today?
Did your teacher need help with anything?
Was there a way you could have helped?
Could you open the door for someone? Give a compliment? Help carry something?
What are the ways you could help at school?
Did you accept someone different today?
How could you support your friends?
How do you stay positive with your teachers?
Did you see someone in your class that needed help with something?
Remember Do something Kind for someone today and learn something New and don’t forget to try this on big humans too. You can replace the “Choose the Dinner” with “Choose the sport on TV and all sorts of other interesting Grown Up things, this is especially good for Romantic Relationships (My tongue is firmly in my cheek right now!….) If you want to be really super kind, you could change a legislation and pass a new law even! Now wouldn’t that be exciting?
Do you like being married? Was it fun growing up as a Heterosexual? I bet it was awesome, you were never questioned about the un-natural state of your romance or progression in front of God and Your Tribe making a commitment to have and to hold, honour and keep from this day forward, in sickness and in health. It is so much more convenient isn’t it? You didn’t have a choice you were just born that way! Lucky duck! The strange thing is, its a kindness to let all sorts of people have this choice too, let us not be greedy! Let us be kind and let us be human, its good for the soul I promise, and it won’t hurt anyone.
PS- putting the toilet seat down is truly a kindness. No really. Put it down.
Thanks for indulging me in my little escape. Sending you all blessings and lots of copious laughs because a giggle a day can keep the doctor away. x