Kindness or the lack of it has been very prominent in the media this week and it saddens me to say that it seems that some of us have lost our way a little as far as kindness is concerned.
People sit behind their keyboards and fire off unkind comments about the judgement that springs from their minds with no regard for the damage they may cause, absolving themselves from responsibility citing the right to free speech.
Some no longer sensor the rush of thoughts in their heads as they leave their mouths with frightening speed causing untold damage that can never be undone to those they care about, work with or mix with during the day.
Collectively we berate the press and social media for irresponsible reporting and cruelty but still buy into their services. If we stopped supporting them feeding on the misery of others to make their living, they would have to stop.
It's good to see that some salons and spas are no longer serving the glossy magazines responsible for pursuing celebrity misery but the tabloids and trolls have far more power than glossy magazines and are more difficult to take to task.
The issue is of course that we never know what another person is feeling or how they may interpret the comment that we let forth because we were offended or outraged or just having a bad day and wanted to lash out.
The consequences of these comments can unfortunately be seen in the rise in mental health issues and suicides. Sadly it is only the celebrity ones that are drawn to our attention but have no doubt, the ones we hear about are only the tip of a monstrous and heartbreaking iceberg.
Being kind is such an easy thing to do and brings huge benefits to ourselves and the community around us. Showing loving compassion for other sentient beings and our environment activates happy chemicals in our brains which raises our vibration and helps us to see things in a more positive light.
Being mindful of our thoughts, our speech, our actions and our intentions can help us to bring kindness into our lives and those around us.
Through meditation and present moment awareness we can check in with the quality of thoughts that we are having and challenge our thought patterns, behaviours and motives. We can then choose to change them for more positive and nurturing ones by losing our attachment to ego.
This will then enable us to view the actions of ourselves and others in a non judgemental way and if we are asked for an opinion or choose to comment, we can make our best effort to ensure that it comes from a place of compassion and a wish to help boost others or nurture ourselves.
Right action encourages us to think about the choices that we make and the impact that they will have not only on us but also on others. We can then do our best to act in a way that supports and helps others and benefits the wider community and environment.
Right intention helps us to protect our karma. Not all things go to plan and with the best will in the world a comment or action make still cause distress to others but as long as the intention behind our endeavour was just and well intentioned, we can accept it as a learning process and seek to make amends to those we caused pain to.
None of us are perfect but all of us have absolute control over how we choose to behave. It is easy to behave mindlessly when we become focused on ourselves or are surrounded by others doing the same but we cannot allow this to excuse unkindness.
For those wishing to encourage a kinder disposition and create a more compassionate life, the following strategies may help you on your way:
Manners - "Politeness is the art of choosing among one's real thoughts."~Abel Stevens. Manners cost us nothing but can demonstrate our respect for others and make an encounter pleasant and successful. We respond much better to polite enquiry than rude demands.
Smile - Smiling instantly lifts our mood so go on, smile at someone, brighten their day. We are a human community and we love connection with others so spread a little joy and SMILE.
Make contact - Pick up the phone, send a text, write a letter or use social media as a wonderful tool for connection and send an emoji, a video or a gif to brighten someone's day and show them that we are thinking of them. That can be a real game changer for someone struggling or feeling low.
Be generous - Buy a coffee, bring in cakes, give the things that you have a surplus of away, give compliments to your friends, family, colleagues and strangers. Be genuine and be generous. You'll feel better and so will everyone else.
Volunteer - Offer to do something for someone else with no obvious reward for yourself. Give your time or skills to help someone else do well. Your brain will love you for it and flood you with happy hormones and who knows where this opportunity may take you?
Be kind to yourself - always. You are amazing and as none of us are perfect, stop judging yourself so harshly. Nurture your soul with a good book, a spa day or a walk in nature. Whatever it is that makes you feel special, do it and do it regularly as a happy you will make others happy too.
Forgive- Holding on to a grudge serves no purpose. Show yourself and the other person compassion and step back from the emotions of the situation and ask yourself the following questions:
Was I kind? Could I have handled that better? Could I have misinterpreted that situation? Did I ask them how they were feeling? Could they be hurting?
We always put ourselves at the centre of every encounter but it may not always be about us, we may have just been the catalyst or safe person to let rip at.
You don't have to forget but forgiving is the healthier option.
Take responsibility - As adults, no one can make us do anything, we always have a choice so don't look to blame others when you are unhappy or have made a mistake.
Take responsibility and seek to make amends. That way you are being kind to yourself as you will learn from this encounter and grow. You are also being kind to someone else by absolving them of blame or responsibility for your wellbeing.
Recycle - Stop throwing things away. Can it be re-purposed? Could someone else make use of it? Can it be disposed of safely and responsibly? Did you need to buy it in the first place??? We have finite resources that we need to preserve. Upcycle, Recycle, Downcycle.
Be kind to the planet!!!
Listen - Stopping what we are doing and giving someone the gift of our full attention is the best type of kindness. Showing that person that you value what they are saying to you and that you are interested in what they want you to know is priceless.
We all so often listen to reply or to disagree but to simply listen attentively and really hear what is being communicated to you is the most wonderful act of kindness. Try it and see how much more you take in and how the person talking seems to blossom under your attention.
To quote Jennifer Dukes Lee and more recently the vivacious Caroline Flack,
Simply be retreats and therapies