Publisher - September 2019
Kindness gives birth to kindness. —Sophocles
There are few things on this earth as impactful as kindness. The ripple effect one kind encounter can have is immeasurable. Kindness is a powerful gift you can give every day, all day, and never be empty. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, to both the recipient and the giver.
Although there is no wrong way to be kind, I would say the first rule of kindness is to be kind to yourself. It is difficult to be kind to others when we can’t be kind to ourselves. While we believe other’s cruelty may hurt us the most, it is the unkind self-talk that tears us down one thought at a time. Research professor and bestselling author Brene Brown says, “When we are kind to ourselves, we create a reservoir of compassion that we can extend to others.”
Recently, I saw a friend going to his car as I was driving through the parking lot at the grocery store. I rolled down my car window to say hello. I wasn’t going to carry on a conversation; someone was behind me. However, she beeped her horn within five seconds. I thought how unkind she was and what her horn blow meant to me. In my mind, it meant she had forgotten that a neighborly community where people speak to each other is important. To me, she was unkind.
It’s easy to be kind. The Dalai Lama says, “Be kind whenever possible. It is ALWAYS possible.” Being kind is a choice, and there are many ways to be kind. Here are a few to remember:
>> Kindness is something we learn when we are still in diapers. A baby can recognize kindness and gains security and self-confidence in being treated kindly. Have you ever seen two toddlers decide to share? It is precious. You can physically see their little body language open, which usually spreads to big baby smiles and infectious baby giggles. Not only does the human body thrive on kindness, so does the entire human race.
>> A smile is the world-wide language for kindness. It is the simplest form of communication with the largest power to connect. Often it is involuntary, and humans are the only animal that can smile. Smiling is a gift that almost every time you give it away, you get it right back. Did you know if you’re in a bad mood, you can smile, and it will begin to make you feel lighter and brighter? Make it a point to smile at others. It will add pep to your step and your face won’t look like you’re smelling something terrible, which is a bonus.
Kindness is revealed in what you say, but it is also revealed in what you don’t say. I have a friend who tells me I’m good about tempering my words in situations that could be ugly. I haven’t always had this talent. In fact, just the opposite. After my divorce, I began to really hone-in on what I felt was necessary to say, and more importantly, what should be left unsaid. I like this way better. For example: I asked my daughter to go back to our hotel room to look in my purse for a Stevia packet. I told her it was in the side pocket. (We were having coffee and the hotel didn’t offer Stevia) She returned without the Stevia, claiming it wasn’t in there. I knew it was, and I could have made a big deal out of it, making her feel bad and inadequate. Instead, I thanked her for looking and said I would just use sugar. Unsaid words can be just as kind as kind words that are spoken.
>> Hugs are scientifically proven to be beneficial to our health. In fact, some say we need eight hugs a day to thrive. If you’re not a hugger, consider working your way towards embracing others. Hugging can reduce loneliness, depression, cortisol levels, blood pressure and anger. Hugs that are held a few extra seconds have even more health benefits! I wasn’t raised as a touchy-feely person, but I have become a good hugger. Hugs are like handshakes, you don’t want them to be weak – it might convey you really don’t want to be hugging. Another hugging suggestion: Try not to lightly pat people on the back while hugging. It comes across like a countdown to how long until the hug is over. If you are a “patter”, do it with gusto, or not at all. If you’re going to hug, do it like you mean it. This helps to give and receive all the positive feels hugs have to offer—both physically and emotionally.
Philosopher Aldous Huxley said, “It’s a little embarrassing that after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give people is to be a little kinder to each other.”
I want to encourage you to become mindful of being kind on purpose. In doing so, you will become kinder to yourself and others. Choose kindness always. If you do, you will be living your best life.