World Kindness Day is 13 November
When we have a day to celebrate it, World Kindness Day gives us an opportunity to delve into the term ‘kindness’ and think about our own kindness skills.
There can be a very dismissive attitude to the term kindness. As though it is a weak quality to have. Something that reveals a ‘softness’ in a person which also has a bad rap! Not so much the kindness said to be associated with charity, but the everyday sort that sometimes demands a little of your precious time.
I often think of kindness as being thoughtful. And the opposite of being thoughtful is being thoughtless. This makes it a more pro-active and sturdy quality – a balance of mind and heart. An ability to step into someone else’s shoes and with empathy and compassion, offer a little help.
A Buddhist term that describes it well is ‘lovingkindness’.
People wait for the big moment, the great event, and forget that happiness comes from building steadily on the small daily things of life. People wait for that special moment to express love and forget that love springs from thoughtfulness practiced every day. People wait, but waiting is future and NOW is always the time.
Learn from World Kindness Day
You can LEARN to be kinder – to be more thoughtful. It starts with being more present and interested. If you are not interested in anyone other than yourself, you will be oblivious to what is going on in their lives. They can speak to you and you won’t see them or truly hear what they’re saying.
And if you believe that your perspective on life is the only one, it could be difficult to be accepting and interested in another’s viewpoint. Instead of feeling kind and thoughtful you may experience anger, frustration or resentment!
From her book, Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach offers:
If we ask ourselves when meeting anyone – friend or stranger – “How can I be more kind?” inevitably we will recognise that every being needs to be listened to, loved and understood… The more fully we offer our attention, the more deeply we realise that what matters most in life is being kind.
And Tara Brach also suggests that:
…it is not always easy to feel compassionate in response to another’s needs… When our hearts harden in defense, it does not mean we are failing… It just lets us know that we need to befriend what is happening inside us before compassion for others can naturally arise.
Wake up to Kindness
Kindness is a way of waking up. You could look out for ways to notice what is going on around you with your family, friends, neighbours, community and beyond. We teach our children to be kind. Somehow it gets a little distorted along the way to adulthood.
There are so many ways you can be thoughtful. You don’t need me to give you a list. It’s often the small kindnesses that touch our hearts the most and can sometimes have a big impact.
And it doesn’t even have to be a physical task. You can nurture thoughts of lovingkindness within your own heart. Then we can offer these thoughts towards someone wherever they may be in the world. We do it easily for family members, when we think of them and imagine we are sending them love.
You can create your own phrases, whatever resonates for you, in order to send as thoughts to anyone, even strangers, because you feel empathy for them:
May you be filled with lovingkindness
May you be well
May you be peaceful and at ease
May you be happy
World Kindness Day is a Reminder
I would love to live in a world where kindness and thoughtfulness towards others are foundational skills. I can only begin with my own approach. You can begin with yours. And as World Kindness Day highlights this, perhaps there will be a wave of small kindnesses and loving thoughts rolling across the planet this weekend!
Some simple ideas you can implement straight away:
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