The Highest Form of Wisdom


I was working at the Jewish temple when I first saw the words. “The highest form of wisdom is kindness” was a quote from the Talmud. Later, I found those same words, artistically drawn on a plaque no less, at a common home goods store. I purchased it and it is hanging in my mudroom at this very moment.

Why does this quote mean so much to me?

Because it reminds me that though others may not be right about something, it is not always necessary for me to point this out to them.

For instance, Jim and I miscommunicated last week over a small matter. I knew I was right (of course) and he did the quick two step to try and cover up his own bad memory. On the spot, I decided it would do no good to hammer him about it or rub it in,  so instead I decided to try a little humility. I said “Wow, I guess I completely forgot I said that to you”, thereby diffusing a tense situation and practicing kindness in the act.

And Jim, ever the good example of humankind said “Well Jo, that’s probably just how I remembered it.”

Now I know you’re going to say that some things are just worth arguing about and I agree. But there are times when I ask myself truly, is it worth it? Maybe I make a great argument for a point about something and rub my ego shiny in the process. But then what do I do with that? I am the fluffed up rooster, crowing my accomplishments and I forget about what’s really important.

What’s really important is that I treat everyone as if they are a child of God.

So this means I am respectful. I am kind. I try and look at another person’s perspective and if theirs doesn’t agree with mine, that’s ok. I will love them anyway. If another person’s bad behavior affects me, I can set some decent boundaries. But I never want to not be kind about it.

My recovery friends like to say Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? It’s basically the same thing as the Talmud but I do love this more simplified version. It’s worth it sometimes to give in just a little, for a center full of happiness.

“You can either practice being right or practice being kind.”
Anne Lamott

How do you feel about kindness? Who do you practice kindness towards?

Join me on my graceful journey.

24 Replies to “The Highest Form of Wisdom”

  1. Well I don’t need to argue with you about this 🙂 I agree with every word, you and the Talmud and Anne Lamott have to say on kindness. I am getting better at kindness but, being human, the unfortunate, unkind word, or thought, sometimes escapes from me.

    1. I am guilty of the same thing of course. It is hard to maintain constant vigilance and that’s the point, isn’t it? We are imperfect and we can only do our best.
      I’m getting ready to read your post! Talk to you again soon! Joanne

  2. Hey, Jo, good story, I learned this saying also, it’s very hard to say but it does stop an argument ” You may be right” especially with the kids, if they want to do something or go somewhere, I don’t want them to go, I say that, and then say your still not.. Whatever the situation maybe. It works though! Good story.

  3. I have to practice this every time I talk to my mother in law. Now, I have always gotten along with her, so this was very difficult for me. She has dementia and it used to (and to be honest, still does!) bother me when she would tell a ‘story’ that wasn’t true! I would correct her by pointing out the truth, but I have learned that I just need to let her truth be. It is hard when she is telling me something negative about a family member and I know it’s not true, to keep my mouth shut, LOL! I am doing better with it. When she tells me her car is in the parking lot at the home where she lives and that my brother in law wont give her the keys, I tell her it’s broke down instead of reminding her that she gave the car to Jeremy & that it is here in Texas! One time she asked my WHY Jeremy brought it back and I had to tell her that he didn’t…that it is sitting in front of my house (it’s not…he traded it in on another vehicle)!
    I think we all have our own “Purple Tree”…our own reality that others see differently!
    Great post Joanne! Another saying I have heard lately about kindness is: No act of kindness is ever wasted…
    Have a wonderful day!

    1. Oh Cathy, what a wonderful story. Sometimes pushing our own point of view doesn’t frustrate anyone else but ourselves. It’s just not worth it.
      So the kindness route is the easiest to follow and you seem to have embraced that calmer road.
      Blessings for your patience! xo Joanne

  4. In my kid’s elementary school the principal would start the day by greeting the children over the intercom. Everyday she would remind them to practice TNK. Is it True? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind.

  5. Love the post, Joanne. Right on target. You know it reminded me also of our egos that must always proclaim that we did this or that in someone’s life to help them. Why do people insist on the constant reminder except to puff their own egos…it’s a form of insecurity for sure, but not very kind, and it’s always a good thing to ask oneself, “Do I do that?” and “Why do I do that?”

    Thanks for the insight,

    Marianne xo
    P.S. The photo is so pretty.

    1. Hi Marianne,
      Yes, I do ask myself that hard question as well, “Why the heck did I do that!” but (sigh) we learn from our own errors and hopefully are more insightful the next time.
      I never regret when I am kind, even to mean spirited people. I’d rather walk away knowing I turned the other cheek, than give someone the tongue lashing of all time. I’d rather not have that on my conscious!
      Glad you liked the photo! I think it’s my daughter’s and I really need to get back in and credit her on that one.
      Blessings my dear! Joanne

  6. This is so beautiful! I love it. And it is so in keeping with where I’ve been. I was wrestling with a post yesterday about wanting to “take on” an article I read and how the need to be right or say my bit felt ugly and I had to lay it down. I might just have to finish that post. I just love this quote and if I do that post, I’ll link back to yours. So glad you steered me here! You’re so talented, Joanne.

    1. Heather, I so love hearing from you. You always brighten my day. 🙂
      You are always welcome to link to my blog! Your writing has inspired me many times and your kindness towards me since the beginning of my blogging days is one of my great blessings…Joanne

  7. Beautiful. Respecting another person’s perspective is pure kindness.. I heard this quote once…”Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible!” What a rewarding way to live. This is a great morning meditation .

  8. i had some one once tell me I had kind eyes. So I try to be kind to everyone and it seems to work. I might not be remembered by others but my kindness is

  9. Lovely post, and a gentle, effective reminder about the need for kindness. My grandmother had a counted cross-stitch, and inside the flowered heart was the message, “Always be Kind.” Watching my mother and my grandmother, I saw their ability to stand up for what was right–and now step down–and still be kind. It’s a rare ability.

    1. Marylin, you are so right. It is a rare ability. And there is sometimes not enough kindness in this fast paced world today.
      I look forward to your posts and just want to tell you how much I really enjoy them…xo Joanne

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