A recent article in The Atlantic magazine reports that kindness is the quality most necessary to create and sustain a happy relationship. Of course this seems obvious - everyone has an aversion to unkindness - but in practice it's not easy to be truly kind. It's easy to be kind when you're feeling good and everyone is agreeing with you and giving you want you want. It's not easy if you're feeling hurt or misunderstood, or if you're told you're wrong, or if you're sick and tired. So what do you do?
For more than 2500 years, Buddhists have been developing methods to increase kindness, using inherent human qualities of gratitude, generosity, and patience to cultivate better relationships with each other and the world. Just as The Atlantic explains, those who are kind have a habit of "scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully".
Buddhists also understand that kindness is like a muscle, and, as the research proves, "it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise". We also know that Sympathetic Joy, the quality of delighting in another's good fortune, is especially important as "how someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences for the relationship". Practice lovingkindness meditation for six weeks and see for yourself the power of cultivating these qualities.