How Kind Words Are Rewarding to Others

Father Faber states: “Unkindness is very much a mental habit, almost as much mental as moral; observation has confirmed me in this idea, because I have met so many men with unkind heads, and have been fortunate enough never to my knowledge to have come across an unkind heart.”

“Self-interest makes it comparatively easy for us to do that which we are well paid for doing. The great price which everyone puts on a little kind word makes the practice of saying them still easier.” Moreover, uttering kind words “become more easy, the more on the one hand that we know ourselves, and on the other that we are united to God. . . . Kindness to be perfect, to be lasting, must be a conscious imitation of God.” In this way, sharpness, bitterness, sarcasm, acute observation, and divination of motives disappear.

“Not only is kindness due to everyone, but a special kindness is due to everyone. Kindness is not kindness unless it be special; it is in its fitness, seasonableness, and individual application, that its charm consists.”

“It is natural to pass from the facility of kind words to its reward. I find myself always talking about happiness when I am treating of kindness. The fact is the two things go together; the double reward of kind words is in the happiness they cause in others and the happiness they cause in ourselves. The very process of uttering them is a happiness in itself. Even the imagining of them fills our minds with sweetness, and makes our hearts glow pleasurably. Is there any happiness in the world like the happiness of a disposition made happy by the happiness of others? There is no joy to be compared with it. The luxuries which wealth can buy, the rewards which ambition can attain, the pleasures of art and scenery, the abounding sense of health, and the exquisite enjoyment of mental creations, are nothing to this pure and heavenly happiness, where self is drowned in the blessedness of others. Yet this happiness follows close upon kind words, and is their legitimate result.”

Quotations from Frederick William Faber, Kindness (London: R. & T. Washbourne, 1901).

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