If Nothing Else, Be Kind
At times like this, when wars and graphic violence are displayed every day on the news and social media, you may wonder what you can do. You may ask, “How can I make a difference given all that is wrong in the world? What can I do to counterbalance hate?”
You can get involved in organizations that align with your values, such as donating money and volunteering your time. However, polarization and taking sides are even more persistent in our world than violent conflicts far away or in another country. Some leaders around the world are speaking with mean-spirited words and filling our collective atmosphere with heavy and hateful energy. Anger is erupting into fist fights and individual displays of aggression that negatively affect all of us.
We are also affected by the smaller acts of rudeness or harsh words as we go about our day. It might be someone that is short with you, who frowns, and is impatient. Often it is the person you don’t know who speaks with a harsh tone or is just plain cranky that can upset you the most. You may realize hours later that their heavy energy negatively affected your day. What can you do when others, world events, or difficult circumstances are causing you to suffer?
If nothing else, you can be kind.
The idea is simple. Are you meeting the world with kindness or with anger? Are you behaving with acts of generosity or stinginess? Are you offering assistance and concern for others or narrowly viewing experiences from only your viewpoint, putting forth judgment and unkind energy?
The importance of kindness has been included from the beginning of time as essential for human life to thrive and survive. It is taught in all the major ancient texts and even included as a core principle of chivalry during medieval times. Kindness is seen as a moral attribute for honored leaders, statesmen, and dignitaries.
Aristotle defined kindness as “helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for the person helped.” Kindness is a simple act that we all wish to experience from others. We cannot control others, however. We can only choose for ourselves to engage in acts of kindness.
Treating ourselves with self-kindness may be the most challenging. The internal Persecutor, one of three roles that make up the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), can speak to you with harsh words. It is therefore essential to be kind to yourself to counterbalance the Persecutor’s unkind ways it may speak to you. If you are kind to yourself, you will be kind to others.
Physiologically, kindness is good for your brain and body. Kindness changes your brain by boosting its levels of serotonin and dopamine which are the neurotransmitters that produce feelings of joy and well-being. In this state, you will naturally extend it toward others.
Kindness does not have to be a world-changing event that reaches millions all in one act. It is a simple gesture of smiling, looking kindly into the eye of the clerk when they hand you the receipt. With genuine appreciation, you say, “Thank you. Thank you for your good work and service.”
Lending a hand or opening the door for others are all small acts of kindness that change the energy of those receiving your generosity. And remember, kindness changes you too. As you become a kinder and gentler person in behavior and spirit, you are choosing to be the person that you wish to see in the world.
Especially during this holiday season, intentionally be kind. Spread the light and love of kindness.