Updated: Oct 27, 2020
“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” The 14th Dalai Lama
With the restrictions of Covid 19, we have been encouraged to be kind to each other. Signs in windows with messages like "Nova Scotia Strong" and "We can do it" remind us that we are a community and we need to be here for each other. Kindness can be considered an act that is intended to benefit someone and it is accompanied by positive emotions. We often think of kindness as something that benefits others, but the benefits actually have an impact on the giver, the receiver, and even those who witness kindness.
Benefits of Kindness
When we act kindly, it benefits our physical health by lowering blood pressure for example. It also benefits our emotional well being, helping us feel happier and more confident and to have a sense of purpose. Acting kindly benefits us socially by promoting a sense of being socially connected and it can even improve our intimate relationships. Terry Real, a couples counsellor and founder of Relational Life Therapy uses the term “relationality” and says that couples need to look at their relationship not as "me-you", but as a whole "us." He suggests we look at interactions not as "win-lose," but as "win-win" for the relationship. When I do something kind for you, we both win because the relationship wins.
Acts of Kindness
So what can you do? First of all, start with yourself. As Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist Nun says “Be kinder to yourself, and then let your kindness flood the world.” So loosen up on the self criticism, give yourself a break when you’re not always perfect, and then focus on being kind to others.
Kindness to others doesn't mean you have to go out and give all of your money away. What’s important is that if you do something kind for someone, you have really thought about what would benefit them. It might be showing gratitude for something they have done, or carrying their groceries for them, or offering a hug, or really listening to what they have to say.
I challenge you to do a kind act for someone, whether for yourself, for someone you know well, or for a stranger and to do this at least once a day for a week. When choosing a kind act, really think about what would benefit that person. Pay attention to how it feels for you to do the act, and notice the response of the other person. And if the person thanks you, accept their thanks as a kindness to both of you. At the end of the week, check in with yourself and see if you feel different. I'd love to hear about your experience of a week of acting kindly. Please post on my comments section.
To learn more about me and the work I do, go tohttps://www.oceantidescounselling.ca/