You are probably thinking “here we go… another ‘hero’ living the glamorous life telling us to be kinder, more generous, more compassionate.”
It is much easier to embrace kindness and being nice to others when life is good to you. Isn’t it?
There is no doubt about it and our life struggles sometimes really have the ability to harden us up and take our magic away.
Before I start preaching about kindness let me make myself clear: in my life I made many mistakes and I often lacked wisdom. I’m not perfect and I wasn’t born kind and compassionate. Embracing kindness was a choice.
When I chose kindness I was experiencing the type of heartbreak that you feel inside your bones and I didn’t want my hurt to break my spirit….And I am glad I took the path to love instead of letting hate drag me down because everything I am today, my happiness, my strength, my achievements started from the moment I embraced kindness as a lifestyle and chose compassion as my core value.
I am very confident and proud when I say that kindness today is, with no doubt, my superpower.
It took me a fair bit of time to fully understand the true meaning of kindness. I conducted many readings, invested time in a lot of thinking and practised it in the real world and, as a result, this is what kindness is for me today:
True kindness can be challenging to be embraced and sometimes it can leave us feeling less than kind. It is tough not to harden up when you give love and compassion and all you get back is suffering and injustice, especially if it comes from the people you love the most…. (deep breath…)
Reflecting back on my first challenge when exploring kindness was understanding the difference between doing acts of kindness and feeling kindness as part of my being.
Doing conscious random gestures of kindness and being generous towards others definitely made me feel helpful and I could see that such acts would make a positive impact on people. However, what I was aiming to do was bring kindness in the bigger picture of my life and for it to be embedded within me 24/7.
Kindness takes practice and in my case, it definitely started with a consciousness choice and a desire to take control of my behaviour. By practising kindness with small gestures, I discovered that a sincere smile warms up the heart of people, a listening ear can alleviate a person’s burden, a warm hug gives comfort and an encouraging word can have a never-ending echo in people’s life.
So, after discovering the power of kindness I managed to finally quote the meaning that kindness had for me:
Kindness meant to treat everyone the same way how I would want to be treated.
As soon as I managed to put in words what kindness was about, something fundamental clicked in my mind…
Kindness started from me, from the way I wanted to be treated. And because we are not in control of other people’s actions I realised that the only person that could provide me with the highest level of kindness was actually myself.
Kindness starts at home, by being kind to yourself. Only once you start being truly kind to yourself your ability to give out kindness will increase.
You are probably asking yourself: “How am I meant to be kinder to myself?” (As you are probably not punching yourself in the when you wake-up in the morning).
Being kind to yourself means listening to your desires and dreams.
Being kind to yourself means to stop blaming yourself for past mistakes.
Being kind to yourself means acknowledging your achievements.
And most importantly…. speak positively to yourself. I in fact encourage you to start noticing your self-talk after reading this post… you may discover that sometimes, or often, you can be quite self-critical when you talk to yourself.
Only once you choose “you” and what is best for you, you will develop the capacity to give unconditionally to others.
Yes…The way to kindness is called self-love.
You are probably thinking “Ok Laura thanks, all this sounds very beautiful, but why should I choose kindness?”
Let me wear my “psychotherapist hat” for a moment and give you a few good reasons from a professional perspective:
kindness is not only the virtue and ability to be concerned about others.
In fact kindness has a positive effect on your mental and physical health. It protects you from your self-doubts that often make our strengths weaker, it develops your resilience and optimism, it makes it easier to like and love.
Kindness enhances the production of serotonin in the brain, a chemical that has a calming and anti-anxiety effect. It also increases the dopamine level in your brain, which gives you a “natural high” and therefore, increases happiness and decreases depression. Acts of kindness often generate an emotional warmth, which produces the oxytocin hormone in your brain. Oxytocin reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardio-vascular system hence, it reduces heart disease.
These represent only some of the benefits of kindness, research in fact confirmed many more advantages. But If you are not already sold on the fact that kindness will improve your life let me give you one more important reason:
We are all together in this journey called life. Life is challenging enough as it is: we all have to face challenges, going through painful experiences and overcoming struggles.
Often frustration can take over and we tend to release on others our own pain. But the truth is that hardening up and being upset with others won’t get rid of your pain. It’s OK to cry and it’s OK to be sad, but it’s never OK to do other people wrong because you were done wrong.
Remember that being kind is not being weak. In fact it takes great strength and integrity to remain compassionate and humble when life is tough on you. Kindness shows strong self-esteem and it is a sign that a person has come to a great self-understanding and wisdom. When I see kindness I normally see greatness. Someone resilient enough not to be worried about being seen as more gentle. And this raises one final question: are you confident and strong enough to be kind?
And if the answer is “Yes”, and you choose kindness, I suggest your first step:
Pick your kindness “weapon”: could be smiling, greeting people, using kind words, being friendly, giving compliments, whatever you feel most comfortable with, and start using it daily.
Don’t get me wrong I am not telling you that kindness is limited to carrying out these acts, however, we said that kindness takes practice and by performing small acts of kindness you may be able to notice that around you some changes may start happening. This may inspire you to embrace kindness further.
I am a mental health professional and even though I am deeply in touch with my emotions it is also in my nature to have a rational approach to feelings and human behaviour. But I must admit that kindness has its own magic energy that science can’t explain. When you surround yourself with kindness somehow it feels right and things just start happening in the right way.
Kindness is fundamentally beautiful and is a very simple way to tell someone that there is love to give to others. It represents a great significance to my life and I am very grateful for every gesture made towards me and the one that I manage to demonstrate to others.
In your life you can choose to be everything you want to be. Choose to be kind. But I warn you.. once you choose kindness, your life may not be the same again 🙂
Watch the video in the Brain Guru section on how to replace self-loathing with kindness