There is no definitive guide to kindness or a happier life. The pursuit of being a good person is very subjective and a life-long journey. A kind person is not one that doesn’t possess the ability to be cruel, that is a docile person. A kind person is one who is capable of acts of cruelty but consistently chooses kindness.
Kindness is a habit that must be practised repeatedly. It is a verb.
But where do we begin? We have written a guide to habits you can adopt now to become a kinder human being. Spoiler- you won't always get it right but don't beat yourself up. To be human is a constant striving to be better.
1. Be Kinder To Yourself
You are the person you interact with the most. Be kind to yourself because how you treat yourself is often how you treat others. Our actions are the physical manifestation of what is going on in our hearts. A heart filled with cruelty and malice cannot produce love and kindness. If you aren't kind to other people, the way to fix that in a truly meaningful way is to look inside yourself. If you're not taking care of yourself -- exercising, taking time on your own, sitting quietly, reading -- your well is empty. Then it's too easy to become resentful and impatient, let alone kind to others.
Just 20 minutes a day makes a difference.
2. Kindness is to speak from your heart
Life is not as complicated as we make it. True happiness is when what we think, believe, and do align. That's it. It's simple but so hard to do in reality. The world often requires us to act in ways that aren't aligned with who we are and what we believe. We say things because it is expected of us to say them and we end up resenting ourselves as a result. That is why you must learn to speak from your soul. Don't be afraid to offend others by saying what you really feel. The truth is neither good nor bad, it's the truth. Be open to other people's truths influencing your truth, don't be disagreeable but give others the gift of meeting you, the person you know you are on the inside, the one who has so much kindness.
3. Show genuine interest in others
Being genuinely interested is a high level of caring and compassion. These words from the ancient philosopher Plato have recently been popular sharing material -- and no wonder. How often have you had conversations with people that leave you feeling lighter and energized? Most of us talk at each other and seldom talk with people. There is the infamous "what do you do?" conversation that is code for "tell me what you do so I can file in under 'useful or useless' for the ends I want to achieve. Conversations mostly consist of people half-listening to chime in with a reply that demonstrates their status and value. We don't listen. Next time someone talks to you about themselves, listen, and ask them more questions about themselves. Be interested. That immediately makes people feel important and that alone is the greatest kindness you can do for someone.
Make others feel seen in this world that swallows us all.
4. Optimize Your Optimism
In life, you find what you are looking for. Whether it's The Good or The Bad, what you seek is always seeking you out. That is why a positive outlook on life is so important because every thought you have is an invitation for those things to enter your life. Think the best of people. This doesn't mean that you must be naïve and everyone's victim but don't let the world steal the gift of joy from you. Nelson Mandela is the best example of this. He saw the best in people that we're conditioned to see the worst in him. He saw the shared humanity in them and his kindness drew out that humanity.
5. Kindness is to forgive others and yourself
Forgiveness is the hardest thing to do. We can all forgive minor transgressions but forgiving life-defining offenses is not easy. Forgiving a lover who forgot your birthday or a colleague who gossiped about you is easier to forgive than a parent who neglected you as children. The reason for this is because to forgive someone whose transgression changed us is not about giving them peace but it is to release us from the mess they made. I struggled to forgive my father for things I saw in my childhood.
Now I can see that he has changed as a person but forgiving him means that the personality I developed as a defense to him now has no context as the cause is no longer around. I now have to do the work of changing parts to me that are born out of pain. It's not easy, but it must be done. Forgiveness is the first of many steps towards mending yourself and being a person with a sense of a bit more kindness towards others.
6. Fetch Your Life
The truth about people that are unkind to others is that they want to make other people feel how they feel on the inside. Hurt people hurt people. It is easier to be mean to a waitress or sales-person than to confront the people in our lives that make us feel small. Service people are paid to take our nonsense, and we use them as a temporary fix for the void we feel on the inside. When feeling the need to assert your dominance on others, work on yourself until you feel like you aren't small on the inside.
If you snap randomly at people, find the wound inside yourself that makes you lash out like a wounded animal. If you constantly gossip about people, find a way of making your life interesting so you don't delve into the lives of others for entertainment. The answer to your problems often lies in conquering the demons have. Fight them and fetch your life.
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