The 13th of November marks World Kindness Day and the theme for the year 2023 is a powerful reminder – “Be Kind Wherever Possible” –it’s easy to get involved. Simply look for opportunities to share kindness today and every day, and show care and compassion for others- and yourself. No act of kindness is too small and can be informal and simple. Why not try sharing a smile, open a door for someone, greet a person in public or offer an act of kindness in your own home.
Life is a journey, sometimes it feels like we are walking in the blue sky and sunshine, admiring the view from the peaks. Whereas at other times it seems far harder, a struggle which feels constantly as if we’re going uphill with storms and difficulties, times when it can feel lonely and cold.
Developing kindness is a crucial part of being a happy person. Being kind to others can make us also genuinely happy in a number of different ways. Everyone wants to feel valued, and we can all play an important role in society by making a positive impact. One of the most powerful ways we can do this is through being kind. Genuine kindness lifts us up, inspires and motivates us and pushes us to do more both for ourselves and for others.
Every time we practice kindness we not only become kinder but we also improve other virtues that come along with it such as patience, tolerance, gratitude compassion and love. These virtues can be improved by being aware and practising mindfulness. Perhaps a lot of the time you are so busy rushing through life, going through the motions each day that you feel you are only surviving rather than living. Our book, Slow Down and Be helps to teach you how to practise mindfulness, and being kind to yourself, and others. It contains links to free mindfulness audio resources and meditations.
Being Kind to Yourself
It’s very easy to be tough on yourself and to let upsetting thoughts take over at times. We can sometimes do this a lot, often much more than we realise- we are often kinder to others than we are to ourselves. Take a step back and consider how you look after yourself. When things seem difficult or hard, what’s the tone or how do you speak to yourself? Encouraging and warm … or critical and pulling down?
What would it be like if you let yourself off the hook of your own self-judgement and critical inner thoughts?
Most people just want to be happy, healthy and at ease. We would want that for someone we cared for such as a loved child. How can you allow yourself to experience the same kindness right now?
Practise recognising and choosing not to listen to your inner critic. Realising that life- and us as human beings- are imperfect. Instead accepting you as you are, with all your strengths and weaknesses. Celebrating who you are and the journey you are on.
To help you do this, access free worksheets such as 10 things you can do to feel happier straight away and more here.
Like all living things, we flourish in an environment of warmth and kindness, rather than cold and criticism. How can you begin to be a little kinder to yourself? Discover more about building kindness towards yourself by practising mindfulness techniques and kindness meditations in the linked audio files here.
When we forgive ourselves, accept our perceived flaws, and show ourselves kindness, we practice self-compassion. It’s often a lot harder than it sounds, but with the right approach, we can learn to make it a habit that sticks.
Being Kind to Others
In a similar way, it can really pay to practise kindness towards other people. It is easier to be kind to someone who is kind to you and who you care about. If you have any harsh critical thoughts and judgements around a person, you might like to try and see what it is like to wish that person well. Let’s not try to forget that we are all searching for the same thing- to be happy, healthy and well.
It may be harder to develop compassionate thoughts about others- people you don’t know so well; the cashier in the supermarket, the postman or other passengers on the bus. Imagine having a warm and compassionate attitude towards them? Download our kindness to others audio here.
Say Thank You
One of the easiest ways to be kind is by saying thank you. It’s easy to notice what you haven’t got or to see the negatives in life. However, if we choose to be thankful towards the people and things in our lives, we acknowledge others and build up bonds.
Being kind, and developing kindness doesn’t require much research or planning, there are ways of being kind that may take no more than 30 seconds out of your day! Try saying ‘thank you’ or ‘I really appreciate you’ and you will see people’s faces light up and you’ll find there’s more kindness in the world than you thought.
So even for those of us who live alone or are isolated, make connections in any way that you can; by phone, video call or a smiley hello to a passer-by in the street, and if you can look out especially for those who maybe lonely and isolated.
Remember that what you send out, often comes back. Being kind to someone else makes you feel good straight away, so start today spread a little kindness and let your kindness cause a ripple effect of goodness. Did you notice anyone being kind to you or others as you went about your business today, or on your way to work or taking the children to school? Or are you just too busy getting on with things…..
The Living Life to the Full Team.