Conversations and Kindness

“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunflower fields in Hungary, 2009

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what I eat lately (from friends and family). I like to think of it as more curiosity than concern. I feel better/healthier than I ever have before, which I attribute to following a mostly plant-based diet. Of course that’s just me.

Moroccan eggplant dip with carrot almond salad

Sometimes I do feel a little bit on the defense, like when I’m put on the spot at a restaurant or declining a burger at a barbeque. The online support from like-minded people is one of the reasons I’ve really come to love blogging. Here are some posts that I’ve enjoyed reading this week:

Katie’s journey to wellness

Kimberley’s suggestions for politely explaining yourself

I also really enjoy Alicia Silverstone’s blog. Although I’m not a vegan (well, I’m trying it out for a week), she has such as nice way of explaining her choices and offering suggestions. I really liked this post about her thoughts on fur. There are a lot of controversial issues that we may feel passionate about (where do I start? for me it’s the treatment of animals, junk food advertising to kids, oil, pollution, gay rights, women’s rights, and education just to name a few). Yesterday my yoga teacher was talking about the difference between detachment and nonattachment (I’m not an expert on this, or anything else… just trying to make sense of the world). Basically she explained that detachment is when you don’t care about something either way. During nonattachment you can have deep feelings, but you don’t need to get all worked up about an outcome. This comment really touched me:

“In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.” – Kelly on The Kind Life

Heated arguments don’t usually change anyone’s mind about anything.

“The fact is that when you make the other suffer, he will try to find relief by making you suffer more. The result is an escalation of suffering on both sides.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Monk’s Pond at Kripalu

“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Can you tell I love Thich Nhat Hanh?

How you do practice kindness when it comes to controversial topics? 

I try to keep an open mind and listen to what they have to say. Sometimes people aren’t really interested in your opinion. In that case, I just try to change the subject rather than argue. Of course if they are interested in another viewpoint it always helps to have your facts straight. And it doesn’t hurt anything to admit you’re wrong or don’t know an answer.

What do you do when someone questions your lifestyle choices? What about when it’s someone you’re really close to? What if they’re doing something you’re against?

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