Be kind is an all-encompassing statement that has a variety of definitions depending on who you ask. Being kind is something we are encouraged to practice every day. Depending on the circumstances this directive is sometimes easier to accomplish than others.
The Do You Yoga website explains kindness as a muscle. The more we use it the stronger it becomes, however, if we don’t then it begins to deteriorate. This is true for kindness and other facets of our emotional IQ, not just for our physical bodies. Pause and ask yourself, “have I strengthened my Kinesis muscle today?” While that question is comical it is beneficial to ask ourselves and determine that answer.
It comes as no surprise that there are millions of ways to show kindness. We often focus on showing kindness to others but fail to show kindness to ourselves. Most people are just as hard – or harder – on themselves as they are anyone else. Let’s look at ways to show kindness to ourselves and to others.
I can show kindness to myself by…
- Not being critical. We might as well start with one of the most difficult. Are you hard on yourself when something unfortunate happens? Do you engage in self-blame or condemnation? Try to remember that we are all human and are not able to achieve perfection. The next time a tough situation occurs, regardless of if there is someone to blame or not, speak words of love and kindness to yourself. One of my favorite self-love responses is, “I did the best I could do given the information I possessed. Next time a similar situation like this arises I will alter my actions and responses so that I can generate a more favorable outcome.”
- Learning to forgive. While it may be tough, learning to forgive is important to self-healing and self-empowerment. This isn’t just about forgiving others but also forgiving yourself.
- Letting go of the need to control things. Asserting control is something most of us do to try to eliminate issues or keep our anxieties at bay concerning situations or people. The truth is that life is unpredictable and no matter how hard we try we are not in control of anything except ourselves. We can control our words, actions, and reactions, but that is all.
- Engaging in self-care. This can include almost anything that makes you feel happy, relaxed, or at peace. A few things that come to mind are making sure to get sufficient sleep, eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, participate in hobbies, and making sure to include physical activity or exercise. The goal is to set aside time for yourself to engage in what makes you feel your best.
What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?Jean-Jacques Rousseau
I can show kindness to others by…
- Showing respect. We can show respect, and essentially kindness, by saying and doing things that are respectful of others. Remember to say ‘please and thank you’, give compliments, and listen when others are speaking without interrupting. These are simple but impactful ways to be kind.
- Giving of my time and energy. Offer to run an errand for a sick friend, encourage a family member who is struggling, or send out a kind card or email. This directive can include volunteering in your community or at your place of worship.
- Apologizing. Giving someone a heartfelt apology can positively impact any conversation. Saying “I’m sorry” if you need to communicate to the other person that you care for their feelings and you recognize that you may have said or done something that caused them to be hurt.
- Smiling. Just do it! Smiling uplifts the giver and the receiver.
Being kind is not a destination, but a journey to which we should all take part.