Kindness brings happiness; there is nothing you can invest in that will bring greater dividends than kindness and cheery words.
Kindness means gentleness; therefore a gentleman should be a gentle man, or a kind man. We have grown so accustomed to saying “gentleman” that we do not stop to think what the word really means. Lincoln was a gentleman in every sense of the word; he had a great heart, a cheery word and a comforting way; with all he was most gentle and kind. What a beautiful lesson he gave the world in this sweet sentiment:
“When they lay me away let it be said of me that as I traveled along life’s road,
I always endeavored to pull up a thistle and plant a rose in its stead.”
That is a golden text for you. Worry is the thistle you are to pluck, and kindness is the fragrant rose you are to plant in its stead.
Ages ago a Greek philosopher said: “If there is any good deed I can do, or kindness I can show, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I cannot pass this way again.” Centuries ago that was said; it was true then, and it is true now.
Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, said, “Do not do any act to another, that you would not like another to do to you,” and later on Christ uttered the same thought in the more positive form which we know as the Golden Rule.
I want to give you a beautiful sentiment to remember. I don’t know who wrote the words, and I cannot remember the words exactly as they were written, so I am giving it in my own language, remembering the sentiment and the idea, rather than the words themselves. “Do not keep the alabaster box of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheerful words while they are here to hear them; things you mean to say when they are gone, say before they go. The flowers you mean to send for their coffins, send to brighten and cheer their hearts before they leave here.
“If my friends have alabaster boxes laid away, filled with sympathy and affection which they intend to lay over my dead body, I would rather they bring them now to my weary and troubled heart, and open them that I may be refreshed and cheered by them.
“I would rather have a plain coffin without a flower and a funeral without a eulogy than a life without love and sympathy.
“Let us learn to anoint our friends beforehand for their burial. Postmortem kindness does not cheer the troubled spirit. Flowers on the coffin cast no fragrance backward over life’s dreary way.”
Think just a moment of the many chances to show kindness you have had and have overlooked. Remember how the loved one, who is gone, longed and waited and listened for words of appreciation and evidence of affection. How much better you would feel now if you could turn time backward and erase unkindness of the past. But the past cannot be helped. Today and the future only are yours. You must learn to profit by your neglect of the past, and to do better in the future. How many ways you could have shown kindness to your departed, if you had your past to live over again. By your mistakes you are going to learn a lesson and from now on you are going to say the kind words now; you are going to whisper love and gratitude to the waiting ears of those who should hear them.
Take home a bouquet tomorrow night. Remember your life’s partner each day with some evidence of your gratitude and appreciation and love.
[Excerpted from PEP: Poise – Efficiency – Peace; A Book of Hows Not Whys For Physical and Mental Efficiency, by Col. William C. Hunter, published in 1914 by the Reilly & Britton Co. of Chicago. The book was a popular one for some time – its 21st edition was published in 1934. — The Editor.]
Some Other Thoughts on Kindness
“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things,
in which smiles, and kindnesses, and small obligations, given
habitually, are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.”
— Sir H. Davy
“Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.”
“Kindness is the only charm permitted to the aged.
It is the coquetry of white hair.”
“The one who will be found in trial capable of great acts of love
is ever the one who is always doing considerate small ones.”
— F. W. Robertson
“To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.”
“Kindness is the secret of business prosperity.”
— Seishiro Okazaki, from The Esoteric Principles of Judo
“I have never regretted an act of kindness, and have always regretted committing
an unkind act. Oddly enough, it has not mattered whether or not the recipient of
my kind (or unkind) act was deserving of it.”
— D. J. McAdam
Who has a kind and humble heart
Has greater gift bestown
Than wealth obtained at honor’s mart
Or power upon the throne.
The weary stranger, hungry, cold,
With thoughtful, low-bowed head,
Is turned from mansions rich in gold
And from the cottage fed.
— Colfax Burgoyne Harman