"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." - Lao Tzu
by Tessa Bender
Take a moment and imagine what the world might look like if everyone were a little bit kinder to themselves, to their loved ones, and even to strangers. How would the interactions in your own life be different? How might it change the way you think about certain people? What would it be like if kindness was woven into the fabric of our society? In honor of World Kindness Day, let’s explore this vision together and I will offer a few practices that will help you spread kindness today and every day!
It used to be common thought that if you are kind, then you are weak and will be taken advantage of. Perhaps, some still hold this belief. True kindness, however is a strength that will not only positively affect the receiver of kindness, but the giver as well. There was a study that showed that the positive effects of kindness in the brain are experienced by every person who witnessed an act of kindness as well as those who were directly involved. In this way, kindness has a true ripple effect, once you do good for someone, it ripples out into the community leaving happy hearts in its wake. Make it a challenge, this World Kindness day, to be as kind as possible. Go the extra mile. There are so many ways to do it, check out a few below!
Oh and guess what? Even if you’re reading this after World Kindness Day, you can still implement all of these practices, the science says you’ll feel better and so will everyone around you!
Be kind to yourself
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”Jack Kornfield.
You know the saying; “You can’t fill from an empty cup”? Well it’s absolutely true. You cannot give kindness to others in a way that is sustainable without first ensuring that you are taken care of. So first things first, ask what it is you need today? How can you be kind to yourself by practicing self-care today?
Take care of your body
Whatever your preferred way of moving the body is, do it today. If you like to work out, Zumba, Yoga, Qigong, or swim. Movement is a way of caring for the body. Slower contemplative practices like yoga and qigong can be extra beneficial because you get to take the extra step of self-observation. During these practices you get to listen deeper to what is going on beneath the surface in your body, mind, and heart. The result is seeing more of the areas where we need a little extra kindness.
When you notice the need for the extra TLC in your body mind or heart, you can try the practices of self-compassion. You can think of these practices as self-kindness. This can be as small as placing your hand on your heart when you’re feeling down and saying “Man, this is tough right now”, or it could be a 10-minute guided self-compassion meditation.
Connect With Kind People
One of the kindest things that you can do for yourself is surround yourself with positive people. On this World Kindness Day, join a group of people who are volunteering in your local community, or chat with a group of positive people online. There are many online events such as the one hosted by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute where thousands of people will come together to meditate and practice kindness with each other online.
Be Kind to Others
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”Maya Angelou
Now once we’ve filled our own cup, then we can practice being kind to others. Kindness truly makes the world go ‘round and your kindness will likely inspire the recipient to pay it forward later in the day.
Be Kind with your Words
Be mindful of your speech and see if you can hold back anything that doesn’t feel kind. This doesn’t mean you can’t be honest, there are times when blunt honesty is the kindest thing you can offer loved one. You may even go a step further and write a letter to a friend or mentor who has helped you in your life at some point. Perhaps you never formally acknowledged your gratitude for their help. This letter of kindness could bring them joy for weeks to come.
Commit to Non-Harm
Hold an intention to not harm any being today with your words or your actions. This is the first step in kindness towards others. It’s easy to unintentionally harm others from time to time without realizing it. If we pay greater attention to our words and actions by asking, “will this harm another being?”, then we will have a clearer conscience as we move through our day.
Be Kind with your Actions
Moving a step forward past non-harm, we can create actions that are filled with kindness, spreading positivity to each being we bless. Go out of your way to open the door for someone, help them carry something heavy, or help them find something they’re looking for. You can also do this by volunteering with a local non-profit. Choose a cause that is close to your heart and show up for your community, or the earth. When we give kindness to others with a generous spirit, it fills our hearts with joy.
Random Acts of Kindness
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”Princess Diana
Spreading random acts of kindness throughout your week can not only keep you smiling, but it will brighten others days as well. These unexpected gifts may brighten someone’s heart when they are feeling low.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Leave random hand written notes of encouragement in the subway for someone to find.
- If you’re in line for your cup of coffee or tea, tell the barista that you’ll pay for the person behind you as well.
- Buy flowers and give them to a stranger who looks like they could use it
- Pack lunches and give them out to homeless people in your community
- Wheel out your neighbor’s trash bins
- Write a positive comment on a blog or website
Do you remember that world that we talked about earlier, the one filled with kindness, can you see it now? Okay, great. Now, go CREATE IT!
Add to the Community: Share your favorite Act of Kindness that you’ve ever experienced in the Comments Below!
Photo: Shalom De Leon