There's this thing about kindness that makes it very difficult. You give some, and it feels quite nice. You give a little more, and invariably some part of you, the part that makes you human, starts looking for some kindness in return. Not always commensurate to how kind you were, but you look for some good to come out of this.
I think that's where we screw up. We give and then we begin to resent when we don't get anything back. Even though we were taught as children that we must give with no expectation of anything in return, as we grow older return on investment is something we always look for. Whether it is financial investment or emotional investment, we want it to be worth it.
What happens when I meet someone who is altogether rude and uncaring? My natural tendency is to return the sentiment. Through actions and words, I would be rude and uncaring right back because, "man, that is what you deserve". So I end up perpetuating animosity, without even a thought, because that's just my default reaction.
What if I were to make a conscious effort and simply, be kind? One of my concerns were, "okay, assume I am kind. Would it even make a difference to anyone? What if my kindness just passed people by?" I've learnt now that this thought was what was holding me back from true kindness. Once I de-prioritized the effect my goodness has on someone else and instead gave more importance to the value my kindness adds to my own life, it wasn't so hard to be a good person anymore. I no longer cared if I was "taken advantage of" because my act of kindness improved my state of mind. It gave me the assurance that if I were never to see that person again, I have left him with as much warmth and goodness as I could offer. There are no regrets.
Why do we not always have conversations with people that are worth being last conversations?
Try this experiment. Try for a week, a month, just being good to other people. I don't mean, start distributing money to people on the street or saving the world. I mean, why don't you make all the time you spend with people 'quality time'.
Why don't you try your best not to resent people that hurt you and instead be good to them, because maybe that's what you (and not they) need to lay your mind to rest. As hard as forgiveness is, removing the weight of your grudges off your shoulders will ease you like a warm balm.
Why not send your best friend a letter, why not give your dad a hug? Why can you not say "I love you" to all the people you do, why not every day? It takes all of two minutes. It will make you feel lighter.
There's something about caring, about putting all these mushy, sappy emotions out on display that people perceive as weakness. This means that people have the power to hurt you, to tear you apart. Yes, I am more vulnerable because that human part of me, the part that so easily becomes selfish and wants kindness in return, does risk getting bruised.
To me, it is worth it. The peace of mind I have because I don't regret my conversations far outweighs my fear of getting hurt. I enjoy my hugs. I like the twinkle in my mother's eyes when I tell her I love her. I am warm inside knowing my best friends know exactly why they are indispensable to me. As long as I don't worry about what I get in return, it will all be okay.
All I am saying is that, why don't you try caring a little more? Why don't you try some goodness for a change? Try a little less hurtfulness, a little more empathy. Because if the sun doesn't rise tomorrow, at least you can be sure that the ones you love knew just how much you loved them.