Yesterday, I was on set talking to Peter Bergman and one of the Y&R directors, Owen Renfroe, about a kiss that was to occur at a particular part of a scene. It is my belief that there are all kinds of kisses. Some are passionate, some are full of love, and some come out of compassion and kindness.
Kindness gets a bad rap sometimes. It can be equated with weakness. One of my favorite sayings is, “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness” because sometimes it takes an enormous amount of strength to be kind, especially to someone that hurt you. Kindness can be a courageous act.
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
Those who were kindest to you, I bet.
It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.
Now, the million-dollar question: What’s our problem? Why aren’t we kinder?
Why aren’t we kinder? What is it in our culture that has suddenly equated cruelness with honesty? I don’t think we’ve always been this way. I don’t think we’ve always been a culture filled with violence, bullying, and self-interest. I don’t even really believe it is in our nature to be mean. I think we’ve simply made it into a habit.
There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf — seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.
Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.
I think Kindness can become a habit, just like meanness. And it’s fruits are far more bountiful. In our scene, it made my character feel more loved, and as if she might be able to trust a man once more and is helping her make her own generosity grow. In my own life, my husband Jon’s kindness has made me feel just the same way.
Forgive and be kind. Forgive and be kind. Or at least… strive to be kind.
You never know what another person is battling with inside themselves.