So, what does kindness actually mean?
There are so many ways to be kind I think it’s a good topic to explore.
When we think of kindness, most of us think of the things we do for other people. It’s doing things for others such as mowing the lawn for someone that finds it hard to do, or cooking tea because you know your partner will be home late, or giving a child a cuddle when they’ve hurt themselves.
With this type of act of kindness, it’s important that you do it because you can, not because you expect something in return. If you do something to help someone out, always keeping tabs and expecting them to even out the kindness ledger, then you aren’t being kind in the true sense. Kindness is being kind because you can, it’s not a point scoring exercise. The thing to watch for here is being taken for granted and not appreciated, but that’s a whole different story – and another blog topic.
We find it easy to be kind to people we love or care for, our friends and family members, – others not so much.
People we don’t like or whose behaviour we don’t understand, come at the very end of the kindness list, when maybe, they are the ones that need it the most.
Ok I can hear you saying that some people don’t deserve kindness, but hear me out.
There’s a saying “Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle”. What if that person you’re judging, is really struggling? What would happen if we took a big step back, put ourselves in their shoes and viewed the world through their eyes? That would be an act of kindness in itself and then there might just be some understanding.
I’m not suggesting you excuse bad behaviour, what I am saying is that understanding where someone is coming from is the first step of kindness and can lead to all sorts of positive outcomes. Remember there is a reason for every behaviour. Separating the behaviour from the person and figuring out what’s going on for them, or telling yourself that they may be struggling with something so it’s not time to criticise, is being kind.
What about me?
Another trap we fall into is being kind to everyone else at our own expense.
Have a think, who do you know that is always running around doing things for other people and then either forgets to look after themselves or always puts themselves last? Is it you, or someone you know? This is a type of martyr behaviour and isn’t healthy either.
When we’re dishing out kindness, it’s super important to include ourselves on the list.
So how can you be kind to yourself? I’m glad you asked!
- First of all, cut yourself some slack and stop beating yourself up. By this I mean start talking kindly to yourself, the way you would speak to a small child or to someone you love.
- Tell that Negative Monkey Mind to STOP, then say or do something kind for yourself. Tell yourself you’re doing your best and make yourself a cuppa, or think of what would work for you.
- Make time for yourself, for that thing you’ve always wanted to do but never seem to have time to do because you are so busy doing for others. Give yourself the gift of time.
- Each day, when you look in the mirror, ask yourself “How can I be kind to you today?” or “How can I show love to you today?”. Listen for the answer and then do it.
- Love yourself enough to put yourself first sometimes. Remind yourself that putting yourself first isn’t selfish, it’s essential and in the end, makes you a happier and better parent, partner or person in every way, so everyone benefits, it’s a win, win. Being kind to yourself benefits others so it’s a way of spreading kindness everywhere.
What goes around, comes around.
It sure does when it comes to kindness.
When we are kind to others, we have a kindness vibe. We feel good to be around and the Universe notices.
Have you ever noticed that when you are grumpy, everything seems to go wrong, and goes from bad to worse?
Yet when you are happy and cheerful the day goes well? So, if kindness lifts your vibration, it makes sense that it will improve your day.
Studies show that kindness lifts our mood, helps us to feel happier, creates social connections and improves mental health. Kind people have lower rates of depression and implementing acts of kindness every day can help heal mental health issues.
So perhaps a way to live a happier life, is to ask ourselves every day “How can I be kind today?”