Dalai Lama: “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
In my own view, we cannot grow to our true potential if we are narrowly self-focused. In a world that’s growing increasingly fragmented, let’s examine the roles that kindness and compassion play in building a better world.
Meaning of Kindness
Kindness is being generous, friendly, and warm-hearted. It means having a kind and gentle nature and involves doing good rather than harm. When practicing kindness, people show an understanding for others and treat them with respect. Kindness involves doing thoughtful deeds for people who are in need. It often means putting other people's needs before your own. When people feel compassion they are kind. (1)
What goes around comes around; with kindness it really does. Experience shows that being kind to others increases our own levels of happiness as well as theirs. Additionally, kindness is contagious and makes our communities nicer places to be. (2)
Hard-wired for Kindness
Each and every one of us is part of our society and everything we do (every thought, word and deed) affects the whole. (3) Being kind is a vital way of bringing meaning to our own lives as well as the lives of others. It allows us to communicate better with others, to be more compassionate, and to be a positive force in people's lives.
- Being kind feels good. Making someone smile makes you feel better. Doing something for someone else really does make us feel good. Kindness releases healthy endorphins, just as exercise does.
- Kindness generates health and reduces the effects of stress on our bodies and our hearts. In many ways, kindness “unclogs” your drains and clears out the trash.
- Kindness broadens our perspective. In order to be kind, we have to pay attention to what is happening around us. As we notice more needs and help others, the broader perspective helps us to keep things in context.
- Kindness softens our heart. When we look for kind deeds, beauty, and the opportunity for kindness, we'll find that we are more compassionate and more tolerant. As we practice empathy, it opens our heart to others.
- Kindness brightens our world. When we are kind to people, it makes them happy. The more people who experience kindness from us, the more happy people will be in our lives. When those around us are happier, our world becomes a brighter, better place to live.
- Kindness helps people feel respected and less alone. By recognizing someone's need for help and acting on it in a compassionate manner, it makes the recipient feel valued. It also makes the giver feel better about themselves and more connected.
- Kindness begets kindness. When you are kind to others, the impacts of your actions don’t stop there. Many times the recipient of your kindness and others are inspired to be kinder. The ripples of kindness are truly endless.
- Kindness breeds tolerance and understanding of others, beyond our own narrow views and perspectives. It moves us beyond "us vs. them" thinking which devalues others as "less" than ourselves.
Stephen Post talked about how being good is beneficial for you mentally and physically. Post's research has shown that people involved in volunteer work feel healthier and happier. (5)
A good number of people also feel less stress when being kind, and less stress means better well being, a sense of gratification, greater resiliency when coping with problems and tough times in life.
Says Post, if you just make an effort to be kinder and more helpful in your daily life you can benefit. You don't have to change your routine or schedule. You just need to see the opportunities in your daily life where kindness can exist. Just a little bit of kindness here and there can go a long way, and it benefits everyone.
Doing kind things for strangers helps build co-operation, trust and a sense of safety in our communities. It also helps us to see others more positively and empathize with them. (6)
Here are 10 ways to show kindness:
- Try to appreciate others' talents and skills.
- Be a good listener.
- Comfort those who are grieving
- Help those who need assistance.
- Put others' needs before your own.
- Help those who are less fortunate.
- Show consideration and kindness through your actions and words.
- Show your appreciation by thanking those who do you a kindness.
- Help others because it is right, not because it is required.
- Show forgiveness to those who have hurt you.
Here are 5 ways to practice kindness: (7)(8)
- Kind act a day: Being kind is about doing just one positive thing each day. Send a kind text, go and open a door for somebody, make coffee for a colleague, buy a friend a random gift, phone someone you haven't seen for Practice-Kindness a long time. "
- Ripple Effect: If you are kind, the person you are kind to will benefit, you will benefit and the people you come into contact with will benefit as well. You will feel good, they will feel good and the multiplier continues.
- Random Act: Pay for the coffee of the person behind you at the coffee shop; become a volunteer at a nursing home; donate food to a food bank; let someone go ahead of you in the queue. The beneficiary will be surprised, then happy and then think about how they can do something nice for someone else.
- Kindness breeds longevity: People who practice kindness and compassion have better general health and live longer. The inner glow you get from doing something nice boosts mental and physical wellbeing.
- Economic Benefit: Kindness attracts kindness. If you are kind, you will tend to have kind people around you. You are far more likely to succeed by being kind and creating a kind community around you because that same community tends to look after each other.
Random Acts of Kindness
Never underestimate the impact of a single act of kindness. It remains in your memory for the rest of your life, and stimulates an endless cycle of kindness.
Pay it Forward
You’ve probably seen the movie “Pay It Forward”, a story about a young boy who did 3 good deeds for others in need. In return, all that he wanted was that they pass on the good deed to three other people and keep the cycle going. It had enormous impact everywhere.
Anyone can start the pay-if-forward cycle: Do a good deed without asking for anything in return. Instead let the recipient know that they can, if they wish, pay it forward to someone else in need.
The Pay It Forward Foundation provides cards can be handed to recipients explaining what Pay it Forward is all about, with boxes on the back of the card that are ticked off as the card travels around. Take a look for ideas at their website for ideas. (10)
For this blog, I’m asking you to engage! Don’t just read passively. Write your views of Kindness directly on the blog! Here are some questions to get you going:
- Are humans basically selfish and greedy? Or kind and thoughtful?
- What’s the opposite of Kindness? Animosity? Hatred? Intolerance? Meanness?
- When you see a homeless person, how do you react? (11)
- Can you think of anyone or anything that justifies unkindness?
- Do you limit kindness to your family? Friends? Race, color, religious beliefs?
- Wikipedia on Kindness: http://goo.gl/qV4tet
- Kindness and Taoism: http://goo.gl/11GJTF
- 10 Amazing Stories For World Kindness Day: http://goo.gl/k8Aj4q
- The Science of Kindness: http://goo.gl/Quc1pg
- Why It's Good for You to Be Kind to Others: http://goo.gl/GgLK3J
- Video: Simple Acts of Kindness - Give it a try: http://goo.gl/smV0Zb
- Kindness Video that will change your life: http://goo.gl/n2OkXX
- 24 Incredible Acts of Kindness: http://goo.gl/MvQDXE
- Random Acts of Kindness: http://goo.gl/J1uvR4
- Pay it Forward Foundation: http://goo.gl/1pi2dO
- The Homeless – 39 Questions For Your Reflection: http://goo.gl/j1vSfs
6 February 2015
6 February 2015