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  • Resilient Practice

Be Kind


“There is a kindness that dwells deep down in things; it presides everywhere, often in the places we least expect. The world can be harsh and negative, but if we remain generous and patient, kindness inevitably reveals itself. Something deep in the human soul seems to depend on the presence of kindness; something instinctive in us expects it, and once we sense it we are able to trust and open ourselves”

– John O’Donohue

 

We recently witnessed profound kindness whilst supporting a loved one during a stay in hospital. This was not one single act of kindness standing above all others, but an ethos or mindset woven into the very fabric of the team caring for our relative. It was an attitude of kindness which infused the behaviours of everyone concerned and it surpassed all duty and obligation. The people concerned did not appear to be caring because it was their job or because they were paid to do so, but because of a genuine love for humankind and the joy that it brought about for everyone concerned, including us. It helped everyone to heal.

It is heartening to see that, in a system that is so often described as broken, individuals within teams still remember why they chose the path of carer or healer and as a result, gain a joy from the results of their work which radiates outwards positively affecting all who are touched by it.

 

 

A study of ‘Happiness’ 2006 at Department of Psychology Tohoku Gakuin University showed that

  • Happy people scored higher on their motivation to perform, and their recognition and enactment of kind behaviours.

  • Happy people have more happy memories in daily life in terms of both quantity and quality.

  • Subjective happiness was increased simply by counting one's own acts of kindness for one week.

  • Happy people became more kind and grateful through the counting kindnesses intervention.

The discussion that followed then centred on the importance of kindness in producing subjective happiness.

 

 

Why does kindness make us happy?

  • It allows us to see positive results of our behaviour which we deem as success, and which invoke a sense of achievement and pride.

  • It allows us to empathise with the positive feelings of the recipient of our kindness. We feel emotions similar to those of the subject via identification and imagination.

  • It allows us to exercise the parts of Self that have seen approval in childhood and so makes us feel wanted and accepted within the tribe – this feeds our survival mechanisms.

  • We witness and enjoy the wider effects of kindness as their consequences spill over into the community in which we interact via collective behaviour and positive consequences.

  • We get to participate in reciprocity as we receive in return as a consequence of our kindness.

 

All of the above invoke positive changes in body chemistry such as reduction in adrenaline and cortisol levels, increases of serotonin and dopamine, a down regulation of the stress response and consequently a tangible lift in mood. Kindness makes us feel good.

 

 

How do we foster kindness?

 

 

Try this

 

Set the intention to introduce more kindness into your conscious and automatic behaviours and try the following:

 

Begin employing the second agreement in ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz – Don’t take anything personally. Understand that when someone behaves negatively towards you – it is never about you. It is always about what is going on for them. If you are triggered by the situation then there is personal work for you – but this is separate from that person. They are suffering. There is no need to impose your help on them – simply be kind in your response and wish them well.


Press pause on your default responses. These may arise if you are triggered because of your own stuff. Press pause and ask – What is the kindest action in this situation?


Employ the ‘Law of Giving and Receiving’ from Deepak Chopra’s ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.’ Deepak says that this law invites us to participate in the beautiful dance of energy exchange, where our actions ripple through the universe, enriching both ourselves and others.’ The three steps to this law are as follows:

1.      Constant giving

2.      Openness to receiving

3.      Gratitude and appreciation


Find ways to be kind as part of your daily routine. Explore where you can default to a kinder approach to your colleagues or customers at work and your family and friends. Where can what you do already be softened into generosity of spirit?


Incorporate additional kindness into your daily routine. This has practice become termed by the modern as ‘random acts of kindness.’ As the above study shows, count more acts of kindness and you are more likely to experience happiness yourself.


Be kind to yourself. Never forget that you are the only one for whom you are completely responsible, and you are the only one that you will never lose. A kinder approach to Self will help to increase Self-worth and inner kindness radiate out into the world only to be reflected right back at you. Everybody wins!

 

 

For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your

human experience see our book:

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