So many of us seek, even actively chase, a sense of peace and fulfillment. We enjoy the fruits of life that we find bestowed on us, in parochial measure, but can we say that we truly treat ourselves kindly or are content, with ourselves?
Kindness as an act, is something we do in treating and interacting with others. Whatever your beliefs, as a child of this universe, we are all deserving of kindness and respect. It is a fundamental human right.
And yet, we shy away from practising loving self-care towards our own bodies and minds, because it gives rise to feelings of guilt. Or, we see it as some kind of character flaw, a sign of weak indulgence or self-centred narcissistic navel-gazing.
Body Image and Disliking Ourselves
Some of us take this even further developing an intense hatred or discomfort with parts of our bodies, for whatever reason. We seek to change the way we look via cosmetics, surgery or decoration.
We may have been unkind to ourselves over time, seeing ourselves only through others’ eyes. It is all too easy to be hyper-critical of an imperfection, when comparing oneself to others. It is important that we see that this kind of perspective, or lens, distorts the way we think about our own bodies and our sense of self suffers. Over time, these thoughts become hard to shift.
..there is no hurt, no lost or berated part of ourselves that cannot be touched by our own loving kindness. Indeed, little kindnesses towards ourselves made habitual in daily life are enough to turn any tide, bit by bit, day by day.
Whatever we think of ourselves, at this moment, we must not forget that we ARE INDEED unique and valuable to this world.
In apportioning loving kindness to all, we can consciously practice self-care.
Being kind to oneself, on a regular basis, is a useful life skill which can help us more readily soothe and quell anxiety and distress in the face of difficult challenges, or thoughts.
Furthermore, when we are kind to ourselves, (and others), we begin to see that we are indeed worthy of tenderness and this, in turn, may strengthen not only our own self- confidence, but also feelings of comfort and support.
It is never too late to be kind and loving towards ourselves. The past is gone and the future has not yet arrived. Focus on thinking that will sustain and support you.
“The happiness of life is made up of the little charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment.”
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In the wake of #Black Lives Matter, some folk appear inclined to believe that being strong is a way to win respect, when it is just a way to promulgate fear.
They may have mistakenly learnt that in being strong they achieve more, or receive more. Does being strong ever bring happiness and contentment?
The two just don’t seem to go hand in hand.
Does a staunch or rigid boss even win respect from his workers by being hard-core? Or they do live in fear of disappointing him? Does a hard-line leader win support through negativity or merely decrease morale?
Kindness is not to be mistaken for weakness, nor forgiveness for acceptance. It’s about knowing resentment of any kind is not on the path to happiness.
Self – Criticism
We may be in the habit of berating or criticising ourselves for perceived shortcomings, constantly putting our own needs last, or inadvertantly disallowing ourselves the time, space and patience we deeply need to rest, heal and, ultimately to feel more content. In short, we are unwittingly being unkind to ourselves.
We may be our harshest critic; it may have become second nature to criticise ourselves and very challenging to praise and comfort ourselves or others.
But we cannot pour from an empty cup.
Kindness can fortify life, and seeing ourselves and others through a kinder lens can make a world of difference to all.
Regular practice of kind words and actions is infectious and it might just be the highest real success we achieve in this life. And it needn’t cost a thing.
Ultimately it is up to us as the sole creator of our thoughts.
Do you think you will appear weak if you show kindness to others?
Would it feel indulgent or selfish to show kindness to yourself?
Is there a time when you must display strength, without kindness, to survive?
There is nothing more likely to incite anger in the community, than petty theft. Especially when most of us work hard to purchase sought after or sentimental items and build a sanctuary where we can relax and enjoy the fruits of our labours. When something is stolen, we feel violated and angry. New homes, like the one I moved to recently, are often targets for criminals and petty theft.
A thoughtful neighbour had pulled up outside in his car, to alert me that our garage door was open, and with no MotH in sight, they’d seen a stranger dressed in black, carting out two large carry bags from our Home by the Sea.
Glancing up the laneway, near the house, I indeed saw a figure dressed in black, carrying two large bags and talking on a mobile phone. Oh dear, I thought, has he taken some tools or something of value from the MotH’s garage?
Quickly shouting thanks to the neighbour, and with the MotH still nowhere in earshot, (despite me earnestly yelling his name), I approached the stranger cautiously, trying my best to look as if I was going for nothing more than a casual walk.
“Yeh, it is me. Come now. I’ve got some really good stuff,” I overheard this figure mutter into his mobile phone.
Oh goodness! What has this dude stolen? I thought.
My mind was racing, imagining all sorts of things. Where was the MotH when I needed him?
Should I go back and find him first?
Should I shut the garage door and ring the police?
Totally dumbstruck for the correct protocol to use when approaching a potential thief, I tentatively asked,
“Hi, can I help you? Are you looking for something, or someone?”
“Oh, Hi, yeh, umm, I’ve just been collecting bottles for recycling,”said this young man of about 30 odd years, pointing to the bags.
“Have a look,” he said, sweating heavily and clearly picking up on my suspicions.
I approached a little closer and peered into his carry bag to see an array of plastic bottles, the sort you take back to the containers for change refunding collections centres, for the paltry refund the government has introduced.
“And I’ve got electrical wiring, too” he said, opening up his second bag to show me.
” It is heavy, I reckon about 26 kgs,” he continued, offering for me to feel its weight. It was indeed heavy and he’d revealed he’d carried it for several kilometres through the new estate.
“All these new houses, the tradies just chuck away stuff that can be salvaged and reused,” he explained.
Smiling, and offering me his hand, he said, “My name’s Daniel,” revealing a single yellow tooth, “..and so now you know, I’m not pinching stuff. Just trying to make a few dollars. I can’t get work, you see, and I get so bored watching TV.”
Daniel proceeded to tell me he spends his days painstakingly removing all the plastic covering from the excess electrical wiring he salvages from the dump bins on building sites. Then sells the wire to the scrapyard in the neighbouring suburb.
My heart sank as he filled in yet more details of his life, seemingly eager for someone to listen to him. As a young lad not endowed with a great start in life, education wise, and few real opportunities, he had fallen into the wrong crowd some time back, and it didn’t end well.
“I have had so much crap in my life,” he said.
He told me he’d experienced periodic work but physical disability, homelessness and long term umemployment had dogged him for many years, until bad friends finally landed him foul of the law.
“I found out the hard way no friends are better than bad friends,” he said, his eyes downcast.
“Now I just try to do something good with my time.” he muttered philosophically. “You only have one life.”
“So I am not pinching stuff,” he reinforced again, suddenly serious and looking me in the eye, in case I doubted him. Instead of walking away, I stood there listening to him tell me his heartbreaking story and felt ashamed for initally thinking the worst of him.
Praising his efforts to help himself and and reduce the truckloads of Builder’s waste, I see around me every day, we shook hands and I promised to set aside plastic bottles and cans, for him to collect on his next run.
Here was a young man who had been through the wringer of life and was doing his best to become pro-active and do something to help himself and the planet.
Daniel was alright.
You can’t always judge a book by its cover.
Showing kindness to a stranger is infectiousand costs nothing.
All of us would like to be listened to.
In case you were wondering what happened to the Moth, he was apparently completely aware that Daniel and I were chatting. He told me later that he had indeed poked his head around the corner, seen the conversation and causally waved a power drill back and forth, in his hand. A moment passed between Daniel and the MotH, and the MotH seemed certain Daniel had noted the power tool armed and ready!
Throughout our lives, we constantly hear sageful advice such as:
“Treat one another as you would like to be treated yourself “– That wise old Confucian saying of “Do Unto Others as You would have Done Unto You.”
We hear this, we know this, well most of us implicitly know this, yet often despite this, ego takes over. People might become selfish, or narcissistic, or begin to look-out, only for themselves.
Are they tired, fed up, or have been taken advantage of?
A kind word can have a powerful effect on a stranger, but also for a loved one.
With immediate family, it is often the case that we reveal our true selves, completely unmasked when we are relaxed and comfortable. Some people might border on apathy in the presence of loved ones and let manners fall by the wayside. So sure are they of unconditional acceptance in that herd or group.
However in a workplace, decorum, tact, judgement and professionality is valued and countenanced.
We might hold back from our true thoughts and selves in a workplace.
In doing so, are we still being kind?
By being grateful,
a man makes himself deserving
of yet another kindness.
~ Nigerian Proverb
If holding back in a workplace is the way to be kind, to save our colleague’s feelings, then that must mean if we are honest and speak what we think, within a family setting, we must therefore be unkind and hurtful? Yet in that aura of unconditional love, we are accepted and loved despite our comments. Comments that would be hurtful in other circumstances.
When confronting a family member who has unleashed ‘brutal honesty’, on someone close to you, the perpetrator often become dismissive, stating that they were joking around, or as we say in Australia, “having a go at ya.”Just Friendly banter !
Which leads me to the question of kindness in society, at large?
Is decorum and discretion really a style of kindness that sometimes is thinly veiled in dishonesty?
Kindness costs nothing but can mean everything to someone
Perhaps the Nigerian proverb gives us some insight into the beneficial ripple effect of showing kindness.
Join in on the discussion at Something to Ponder About this Sunday
Many judge others who are dissimilar to them, far too quickly and without compassion. Judgements are a breeding ground for misconceptions and left to fester uninhibited can develop into prejudice, fear an in its worst incarnation, racism.
Individualism is rampant. Income inequality is growing. Public education is under-resourced. The gender revolution is stalling. We no longer trust our major institutions or our political leaders. We are more socially fragmented, more anxious, more depressed, more overweight, more medicated, deeper in debt and increasingly addicted – whether to our digital devices, drugs, pornography or ‘stuff’.
The streets are empty of children, neighbours are sometimes strangers. We don’t seem to talk to each other, so much anymore. Now in the wake of the Christchurch tragedy and upcoming elections, immigration and security is on the political agenda.
There is intense discussion on the social problems of rising prejudice, racism, fear and extremist sentiment. An undercurrent of fear and divisiveness, is deliberately or unwittingly perpetuated by media forces. What can the individual do?
The greatness of a community is most accurately measured
Yesterday I wrote a post about Neighbours from Hell, and heard Social Researcher Hugh Mackay’s concept of nurturing our neighbourhoods by developing compassion. Hugh believes it is compassion that will save mankind from divisiveness, radical viewpoints and extreme behaviour.
With a sweet tongue and kindness,
you can drag an elephant by a hair
~ Persian Proverb
Once I turned 20 years of age, I was keen to contribute and be actively involved in the community, be that in the educational setting, workplace or community leisure groups. Involvement in these groups has brought me many lasting friendships and taught me valuable life lessons. I had to find ways to get along with different kinds of people, to make things work. Resentment and dislikes impaired the team effort. Community cohesiveness became impportant to me
Compassion and a sense of acceptance of others for their differences can assist us to understanding our neighbours, and colleagues and, in doing so, we foster a sense of community, of inclusiveness.
In a perfect world, no one group or individual would feel so threatened or socially isolated they would need to resort to violence or aberrant behaviour. We can all do our part in our own small neighbourhood, to drag the metaphorical elephant by the hair.
“We do not have to agree with them, but we Do just have to understand them.”
“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” ― J.K. Rowling,
What do you think?
Could compassion and community be the antidote to social extremism?
Everyone’s opinion is important. What is yours?
Join in the discussion by leaving a comment.
I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.
Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations
and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived
and lessons learned.
Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.
Proverbs and sayings often provide us with wise words from all corners of the world. Best savoured a little at a time, these sayings are passed down from generation to generation. Each Thursday, I post a saying, or proverb and a quote that I find thought-provoking. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
The theme of this week’s wisdom is kindness.
“The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm”
– Swedish Proverb
You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
[Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century- Wiki.]
My Yoga teacher used to say that,
“Smiling was an art that comes from the heart and should be practised all the time.”
The kindest people I have met have had the loveliest, most genuine smiles. The heart may be the centre of love, but the smile is the centre of kindness!
Life may buffet and bruise us and although we put on a brave front, life experience and hard knocks are indelibly etched on our faces, and especially on our smiles.
If someone can’t find a smile, give them one of yours. Light up their day!
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
Kindness costs nothing, yet can make a world of difference.
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible!” -Dalai Lama
The Swedish proverb seems to both reinforce and contradict this advice.
What do you think?
Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.