Kindness. For some people, it seems to come naturally, doesn’t it? For others, like me, it takes effort and determination.
All too often we can neglect the art of being kind, not just to others but to ourselves, so caught up are we in our busy lives. Or we may see ‘big visible’ acts of kindness on social or traditional media and—feeling unable to contribute in such a way—decide that it is pointless even making the effort. However, know that ‘small’ acts of kindness can be a portal to happiness and peace if you allow them to flourish again in your heart.
I know from experience that kindness and thinking of others can teach us to steady the symptoms of mental dis-ease such as anxiety or depression; can increase our tolerance to chronic physical health conditions; and will enable us to make positive changes to our inner world and the world around us.
This week why not immerse yourself in these three simple acts of kindness! Their simplicity belies the power they possess, for in cultivating kindness we take an important step along the way to self-realization:
1. Give others your full attention
Have you ever watched people in conversation? Observe what they do at the same time as someone is speaking to them. Scrolling through posts on social media, scanning a newspaper, watching a television programme, typing on the computer?
Think about your emotional response if you were on the receiving end of this behavior. Some people would be unperturbed, finding this normal behavior. Others would feel disrespected, as if their opinion didn’t matter.
The first step in giving others your full attention is to notice when you are not doing so! Awareness allows you to stop the activity and give the other person your full attention. Look them in the eye and really listen to what they have to say. You may not like what they are saying; you may not like the person! Both are inconsequential.
As sentient beings, one very important way we connect with each other is through the eyes, which many believe to be portals to the soul. So make it a positive choice today to give others your full attention. In this way, you selflessly give them your time—a precious commodity in this earth-bound world.
By fully connecting with others in this way we are given a Divine opportunity to live our lives differently, and this allows our inner joy to shine out. Joy and happiness are infectious, enveloping everything around us in a loving embrace. Awesome!
2. Address bad habits
This is where we talk about compassionate self-analysis, which entails changing well-established patterns of thinking, old habits of behavior and replacing them with positive alternatives.
Compassionate self-analysis allows us to develop kindness and understanding towards ourselves firstly in order to strengthen our spiritual core. This then facilitates pouring kindness onto others.
Choose a ‘poor’ habit and make a commitment to turn it around, starting this week. This is not the same thing as giving up sweets for Lent or alcohol for Dry January. Take a small habit that you intuitively know you want to change. It could be staggering out of bed in a bad temper in the mornings or never saying thank you.
It’s important in the first instance to be aware of when you are acting out a ‘bad habit’. Catch yourself as soon as you notice this and immediately replace it with a positive alternative. So this could be saying a quick gratitude in your head before getting out of bed or always saying thank you to others and so on.
You can amplify this practice by ‘handing over’ these poor habits to the Creator during meditation. When we go through this process of handing our past behaviors over to God, we free ourselves of regret. This allows us to progress to the next step of actively and sincerely choosing to do things differently from now on.
3. Selfless action.
Selfless action is action with no thought of reward or attachment to the outcome of the action. This is a highly desirable spiritual quality and one which needs to be nurtured on our path to enlightenment.
Keep in mind your motivation in helping others. Our apparent altruism and selflessness is tempered by that part in all of us (the ego) which likes to be thanked and covets praise for helping others and being kind. Your motivation should be selfless, an act of being kind because it is the right thing to do, because each act of kindness leads to a better world, because we are effecting positive change in the world around us.
Listen to your intuition for it will quietly provide guidance in the background if we are open to listening. Our intuition will always guide us to a path that is for our highest good. I call these spontaneous or “spur of the moment” thoughts, words and acts of kindness. Listen to how your body feels about the action by way of a simple barometer—relaxed is a Yes; contracted is a No!
Here are some simple selfless actions to try: taking the time to add a positive comment/review to a social media post/site; playing and interacting with your pets; tidying up mess in your street or local park; blessing others for the service they have carried out for you, and so on.
Do not advertise your good deeds to everyone (beware of the ego craving praise!). Simply inspire by example.
I leave you with an extract from my poem “Kindness”:
When you love without
You thrive within.
When you care for others
Your soul is swaddled
In the arms of the Creator.
Each ripple of your compassion
Fills the Infinite Ocean.
Each step you take
To connect with your neighbor
Lightens and brightens your inner demeanor.
Today and every day, in this and every moment, may you choose kindness and love. Kindness… it’s a beautiful thing!