Tuesday, 29 December 2015
Albert Ellis and the Dalai Lama on Kindness
The Dalai Lama says to be kind wherever possible and that it’s always possible. He talks about ‘cultivating’ attitudes of kindness and to practise empathy and sincere concern for others. Then there’s ‘mindfulness’, practising awareness of our feelings and actions and our underlying attitudes. What are we doing? How are we feeling? How are we behaving?
Albert Ellis talks about unconditional acceptance of others (UOA). This entails consciously and intentionally being aware of our prejudices and dislikes when considering others and not judging them totally on the basis of a disagreeable (to you) quality or characteristic.
Random acts of kindness it is said is as good for the giver as it is for the receiver (givee?) because it engenders feelings of empathy and concern. It enables the release of endorphins which produce the ‘natural high’ we may experience.
We can choose to act kindly towards others and the trick it seems is not to accept anything in return. There’s always a payoff of course. Even the most altruistic among us would acknowledge that we get some kind of reward even if it’s just an endorphin fix! This is my take on Ellis’ UOA. Treat others respectfully, with kindness because they are fellow human beings (like me) and are worthy of respect. At the same time I can choose to dislike aspects of their character/personality that leads me to decide not to want to associate with them. That’s my choice but I won’t damn them totally.
The Dalai Lama presented a blessed white silk scarf to Albert Ellis on his 90th birthday a gesture underpinned by a strong mutual respect and understanding. Ellis’ REBT offers a philosophical based counselling model of mind to teach children about thinking, feeling and behaving. This marries well with the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and is therefore of great potential benefit to students of all ages.
These principles are taught in daily teaching practise through Rational Emotive Behaviour Education in many schools in South Australia. Students are taught about helpful ‘habits of believing’ that direct healthy behavioural choices and emotions. One of these is Unconditional Acceptance of Others, the underlying philosophical belief of the act of kindness – no conditions, no strings.
Kindness based on the conditions you may place on the other is a different kettle of fish. This is the ‘what’s in it for me’ approach to kindness and is largely what fair weather friendships are made of. And of course there is the principle of ‘enlightened self-interest’ where a relationship is based on a give and take understanding, which is a healthy situation, where each know the rules of engagement.
But that’s all for another blog item but remember it’s cool to be kind!