Wired For Kindness
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” — Desmond Tutu
Can you recall a time somebody was kind to you? Now change the scenario and think of a time you were kind to another person? Call to mind their reaction and how you responded. Move into your heart and notice the feelings there. If you read no further than this point, you will know that kindness affects the user and the experiencer – leaving a lasting impression. In this fast pace world, kindness and compassion takes a back seat to selfies, self-interest and expendable human interactions. Every person is waiting to be discovered or become rich, believing that holds the key to their happiness. Yet when they attain success, they long for their former life having underestimated the trappings of fame and celebrity. I enjoy this quote by Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, David W. Orr: “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” Kindness is fundamental to human existence. We are thrust into the world as newborns and enriched with the kindness of our parents’ nurturing for the following years. Humans are the only mammals with a prolonged gestation period. Other creatures rely on support for a brief time before becoming self-reliant. We are powerless at birth and depend on our caregivers to provide for our needs. Therefore, kindness is sewn into the framework of our DNA. We are literally wired for kindness. How does this resonate with you? Do you believe kindness is fundamental to human existence?
Do No Harm
“To understand everything is to forgive everything.” — Osho
World peace will not arise from overthrowing dictatorial powers or ending conflicts between nations. It will happen when humanity raises its consciousness beyond that of fear and hatred. I’ve often said that Peace Is Only A Thought Away. Its motives emerge through kind thoughts towards oneself and others. Kindness is not something that demands hard work. It originates from the simple act of doing no harm to others. It involves judging less, however compelled we might be to do so. The ego is quick to judge because it is victimised and hurt, so it retaliates in revenge. Kindness, however, bites its tongue. It does not seek to be right but rather to preserve peace of mind. We gain little by giving someone a piece of our mind, other than inciting conflict and separation. It was the Lebanese-born poet Khalil Gibran who wrote: “I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.” It might be clear to you that fighting force with force is not the way towards peace. But you might ask: does that mean allowing others to treat me unfairly? No, not by any means. Though you needn’t retaliate with overwhelming force. I’m not implying you become a doormat, however I urge you to accept the lessons contained within the experience. Are you letting others treat you unfairly on some level? Or unconsciously giving them permission to do so?
Benefits of Kindness
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”— Mark Twain
Kindness has many benefits including increased happiness and a healthy heart. It slows down the aging process and improves relationships and connections, which indirectly boosts our health. People believe kindness is particular to those of religious faith because of their moral vows. Kindness does not require us to be of religious faith or even spiritual. Demonstrations of kindness are observed in man’s best friend, the dog. Cats show kindness and are treasured for their emotional connection. Kindness broadens our life’s frame of reference and is a symbol of respect to value the receiver. It influences the giver more than the receiver and has correlations with enhanced mental, emotional and physical well-being. Through the 1990s, the late Dr. Masaru Emoto performed a series of experiments examining the natural effects of words, prayers, music and environment on the crystalline structure of water. He noted when kind and loving words were conveyed to the water, they formed a complete crystal structure compared to energies of hate and anger. Considering approximately 70% of our body is made up of water, kindness has a direct impact on our immediate health. People believe kindness signifies weakness and being taken advantage of. It’s important to delineate between kindness and being a doormat to others. You can be kind and assertive when others attempt to profit from your kindness. We should in no way undermine our self-worth at the expense of others, but simply practice kindness while upholding our integrity.
Be Kind Anyway
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” ― Plato
It’s no surprise wicked acts have a greater impression on us than acts of kindness. We are alerted to fear more than goodness. Psychologists believe we are wired to detect that which threatens our survival and happiness. We give attention to acts of cruelty in the news because it is perceived as a threat to our survival. In these times of disingenuous social media interactions, unkindness abounds as people hide behind screens. This does not make it appropriate to abuse others. There is a person on the other side of the screen with feelings we must take into account. An important lesson in kindness involves asking ourselves: ‘How would I handle being the recipient of this?’ If it doesn’t feel good avoid the behaviour. “Hurt is hurt, and every time we honour our own struggle and the struggles of others by responding with empathy and compassion, the healing that results affects all of us,” avows author and social researcher Brené Brown in Rising Strong. I wish to leave you with a passage from Mother Teresa’s poem titled Anyway, in which she states: “People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centred; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.” We can incorporate the smallest acts of kindness into our everyday life and notice the ripple effects. The Butterfly Effect in Chaos Theory asserts that a tiny event in one region of the globe can have a substantial effect somewhere else. Armed with this knowledge, it is the Dalai Lama who reminds us that if we cannot be kind, avoid harming others.
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