Most people would say that they are generally kind to others. However, social researcher Shaunti Feldhahn says that kindness needs to make a comeback. She outlines some of the ways we are unkind without even knowing it.
For instance, she says we can be unkind by catastrophizing situations.
“Honestly, this is one of the reason why our culture has gotten so unkind. I didn’t even know it was a word until I started this research. It turns out that catastrophizing is that tendency to think, oh man, if this thing happens it’s going to be a catastrophe.”
Essentially catastrophizing means making a big deal about something that isn’t a big deal or even expecting the worst thing to happen in a given situation.
Shaunti says we can see this a lot, particularly during elections when people think the candidate they oppose will bring about a catastrophe by being elected. While anticipating negative outcomes might not always be a bad thing, in doing so we often become remarkably unkind.
“It’s because we feel so strongly about it that the consideration of kindness, respect, calmness, and joy, all of those things get swept aside because we are trying so hard to prevent this catastrophe from happening.”
Sometimes when we catastrophize something we actually make it into a bigger problem than it actually is. Ultimately, all we can do is make sure that we are being kind; we can’t control the behavior of anyone else.
“I can’t control what other people post on social media, but I can control what I say. I can’t control how somebody responds to me, but I can control how I handle that interaction. Our little choices to focus on how we are going to treat others with kindness, little by little, one person at a time, that is how we are going to change our culture as the body of Christ.”
Shaunti Feldhahn received her graduate degree from Harvard University and was an analyst on Wall Street before unexpectedly becoming a social researcher, best-selling author, and popular speaker. Today, she applies her analytical skills to investigating eye-opening, life-changing truths about relationships, both at home and in the workplace. She is the author of The Kindness Challenge: Thirty Days to Improve Any Relationship.
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Key Scripture: Philippians 4:8
Featured Songs: Love Take Me Over – Steven Curtis Chapman; Glorious – Passion; Impossible Things – Chris Tomlin