Let’s all think back to the beloved holiday tale of redemption, Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Why do we love this story? What about it entices us to revisit it even when childhood is a distant memory?
The answer to both questions posed is the same: It inspires us to be kind. How does it encourage kindness you might wonder? Well, it simply shows us how to be kind to “unkind” people and how the gift of kindness comes back to us tenfold.
Do you recall kind reader that moment when “Santa” (The Grinch) meets gentle Cindy Lou Who? Little Cindy Lou is not afraid of “Santa” and approaches him kindly. The Grinch responds with seemingly feigned kindness and tucks her back into bed, gently patting her on the top of her head.
Believing still that he can “steal” Christmas from Whoville he continues on with his plan. No house was spared from his sneakily silent removal of all signs of Christmas. Nothing remained, not even a twinkle of tinsel.
No Who would be immune from his dastardly deed. He had taken Christmas, oh yes, indeed. Tears would surely flow from all of those Whos below.
As he summits the mountain and enters his lair, the Grinch awaits the sad sounds that he is sure will saturate the chilly air. Much to his surprise however not a single sound of sadness emerges. Instead his curmudgeonly ears soon hear the lilting chorus of joyous voices welcoming the new day in the spirit of Christmas.
Still struck by Cindy Lou’s compassion earlier and now perplexed by the happy vocals beckoning him to listen with his heart, the Grinch chooses again. In other words, he decides to reflect the kindness demonstrated by the Whos and decides to no longer be unkind.
Cindy Lou was the catalyst of compassion that initiated the change in the Grinch’s outlook. Hearing the Whos joined in joyful unity, undeterred by the Grinch’s “unkind” actions was the second step towards his pivot back to the way of kindness.
Of course the Whos knew who “stole” their Christmas and yet they did not retaliate. Instead they provided the Grinch the space to choose to mirror their kindness without duress. The Whos reflected the essence of true kindness: They met the Grinch where he was at emotionally and offered him another choice if he chose.
The kindness of the Whos permitted the Grinch to choose to be kindly towards everyone. The Whos accepted his change of heart without judgment or punishment.
They welcomed the Grinch into their inner circle with unconditional love and forgiveness. The Whos even extended the Grinch the “head of household” honor at the Christmas Supper.
“And he, he himself…the Grinch…carved the roast-beast!” (Dr. Seuss, How The Grinch Stole Christmas)
We all encounter gobs of “Grinches” in our lives. Let’s all pledge to remember the example of the Whos granting “Grinches” the space to begin anew and to choose to go kindly in all of the world, through and through.
Extending an invite to start over is especially apropos for the holidays.
You cannot control “if” or “when” they will or will not choose to accept your invitation. That is not your concern, nor your worry. For you see when it comes to clearing space in our hearts for ungrinched “Grinches,” there is no scarcity or hurry.
What if your decision to not take a “Grinch’s” unkindness as a personal attack empowers him or her to choose again and to choose to go kindly forward from that moment? Could you imagine your heart “growing three sizes” in one day in a most wonderful way? What greater gift could there be ever?…My, how clever!
How would you approach a “Grinch” in your life with kindness?
Let’s continue the conversation. Please feel free to share your thoughts. All expressions reflecting choosing kindness are welcome here.
Happy Holidays everyone. See you in 2015!
A similar version of this post was originally published on LinkedIn