I’m finding it easier to be kind by giving stuff away or helping someone than to be kind by refraining from being judgmental.
For example, I took

  • some blankets and jackets to the cold shelter
  • some toiletries to the Respite Care Ctr. for indigent patients
  • a therapy brace to Guatemala. (Well, I didn’t quite take it to Guatemala, but since I finished my broken arm therapy, I gave the brace back to the company which sends used braces to patients in Guatemala.

I was kind to several friends who wanted company or a listening ear.

I was kind to the environment by patching a hole in my jeans rather than buying a new pair – the old Reduce-Reuse-Recycle routine. (Click to enlarge photos.)

All this was very intentional and I think “counted” as being kind…
BUT, I continue to catch myself in mid-sentence starting to criticize someone. I’m usually not complaining about a friend but rather a politician or other public figure. Sometimes I realized my judgmental remark in mid-sentence. Sometimes I was able to self-censor and catch myself before I spoke, but I still had the critical thought. Once I was able to rethink my complaint and reword it in non-judgmental way. Ideally, I’ll be able to break the habit of thinking negative thoughts about someone by substituting compassionate understanding of their needs or fears. (Although I still reserve the right to feel outrage with evil since it can motivate me to act.)

What I’ve learned about trying to change a negative habit:
1. Increase awareness: The first step seems to be an increased awareness that I’m doing it wrong. This may feel like backsliding but I think it’s mostly a matter of being more conscious of the habit I’m trying to change.
2. Reduce: The second step is to actually stop the habit – some of the time.
3. The goal is to change the attitude that underlies the bad habit.

In the case of judgmentalism I think the demon is thinking that I’m better than, righter than, more important than other human beings. I don’t consciously believe that, but the urge to be loved, liked, and succeed is pretty universal. The challenge I think is to balance a healthy self-regard with remembering it’s not all about ME. That’s a life long journey.

Oh yes, and then there was Sunday when my goal was to be kind to myself. I indulged myself in a giant cookie and started the long overdue project of organizing the loose photos from 1990 to 2002 – when we mostly went digital. I like organizing stuff but this may take the rest of the Lenten Sundays.