“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
It is very often the lack of kindness that is the actual root cause of most of our problems. We have a difficult time seeing past our own thoughts, expecting others to think-act-feel-see things the way we do. Not purposely, of course, we’re just wired to be a bit selfish.
We focus on ourselves out of need. How does this impact me? How do I relate to this situation? What’s in it for me? Me/My/Mine and I are the only words that have meaning to us. Living in a world of “I want this”… we focus on ourselves, by ourselves, with ourselves… to take care of ourselves. But sometimes something gets lost in translation along the way.
Kindness does NOT mean a flat, forced version of being nice. It does NOT mean sacrificing our nuances, complexities, and authenticity. It’s more than just holding the door for someone or not cutting someone off in traffic. Kindness is actively choosing to be generous with our time, knowledge, finances, patience, and headspace in spite of the thousand stressors, worries, and unknowns that face us each day.
Kindness is caring about others and doing things to help make their lives better. It allows us to connect with other people and build meaningful relationships.
When someone displays an act of kindness to us, we feel connected and more willing to cooperate with them. When we do something nice for someone, we cultivate trust, and we feel good about ourselves for being a kind person.
But WHY should we be kind?
In the world at large, we have seen so much pain and heartbreak. So many lives needlessly ended. So much heartbreak and loss. It’s a normal reaction to want to protect yourself from all of that horror and isolate into your own safe space. The problem is that when everyone does that, we lose truly important connections with our community and even ourselves.
Kindness isn’t a feeling… it’s an action.
Being kind is not about how you feel. It’s about what you do.
Showing kindness to someone you don’t like is really hard. But you just might surprise yourself when you take the high road. You have to remember that it’s not about the other person, it’s about us and who we choose to be in that moment. Practicing little things… like smiling and saying hello to an unfriendly neighbour, or NOT gossiping about a difficult co-worker, or choosing not to clap-back at someone when they’ve dissed you are all acts of kindness.
And, even if it feels strange to you, if you show kindness then you’re more likely to feel better. You could even start to see the good in people or even learn why they act the way they do.
But on the other hand it is important to note that kindness can also be the ABSENCE of action.
Being kind is just as much about what you don’t choose to do.
Not gossiping or not joining in with workplace bullies are pretty obvious ways to be kind. Perhaps you don’t need to make that witty sarcastic comment that would hurt someone’s feelings.
If something seems like an unkind thing to do, stop and ask yourself if it’s necessary or kind. Can you find a different way forward, instead? Or can you even just do nothing at all?
Kindness is a two-way street. It’s a back and forth that strengthens our bond with friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances.
The more we practice kindness, the easier it becomes.