We’ve been told to be kind all our lives. Growing up, I thought being kind was being able to engage in small talk with strangers. That’s not kindness; that’s social aptitude. Being kind is not reserved for extroverts.
Kindness is easier to express with someone you like or who is nice to you. That’s not kindness, either. That’s reciprocity. The trick to the seemingly simple mantra “be kind” is that it encompasses everyone.
It’s not our job to play judge and jury, to determine who is worthy of our kindness and who is not. We just need to be kind, unconditionally and without ulterior motive, even – or rather, especially – when we’d prefer not to be. Josh Radnor, American actor and singer
Google’s dictionary defines kind as “having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature.”
Kindness must permeate all our interactions if it is to become our nature. We don’t get more from the Universe by mirroring what others give us. We must give more than a reflection of how we have been treated. Exchanging kindness is a zero sum game. To, go for the win, our actions should be adding value.
Merriam Webster, m-w.com, defines kind as “a sympathetic or helpful nature.” One thing my son is adept at is sympathy. He often gives me a sympathetic scenario for why someone has acted the way they have. For example, a car cuts me off and I blurt out something in anger. He’ll say something like, “Mommy, maybe they are running late and don’t want to lose their job.” He always has a hypothetical to engender a more patient response. It’s apparently a natural gift as neither his father nor I have taught him to do that. We’re learning from him that being kind is easier when we sympathize with others’ circumstances. When you don’t know those circumstances, try making it up like my creative and kind son. It works.
When we force ourselves to be kind regardless of how the other person acts, we drop a lot of negativity from our lives. It removes uncertainty. I don’t know how the people I’m going to encounter are going to behave, but I know I’m going to respond with my “generous and considerate nature.” (you know, try to!)
Be kind to yourself
Now, that I’ve given the predictable ‘treat others well’ speech, let me get to perhaps the harder part. There’s another person to whom we often fail to show kindness, ourselves. Again, I am preaching to myself here.
We fail to be kind to ourselves when we engage in negative self-talk. We fail to show ourselves kindness by not taking time for fitness, nutrition, and meditation, which are the next 3 topics coming up. We mommies especially have been sold this lie that a good mother martyrs her self-care. When in reality, we cannot fully be present for our families when are depleted.
If you look through the 30 habits we’ll be working on this month, you’ll see the list could be entitled 30 ways to be kind to yourself. That’s what I really want for each of you to focus on. After all, as we’ll discuss on the 17th, when you take care of yourself, then you have more to give to those around you.
Commit to being kind to yourself during this month. Intentionally and specifically do something kind for yourself every day. Start a meditation practice. Start planning healthy meals. Start an exercise program. Start a new book that you’ve wanted to read. Do something just for yourself.
In the comments, feel free to share what you are going to do for yourself.
“When we recognize our own brokenness, we are inclined to help others who are broken.” – Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a clinical professor at New York University School of Law.