A 2.5 hour call with Apple support left me with tears of gratitude that led to this week’s theme. Kindness is an interpersonal skill which is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate, affectionate, gentle, warm, concerned and caring. Summer, the Apple rep, was all of the above.
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ― HH the Dalai Lama
The theory of survival of the fittest is often misassociated with selfishness, focused solely on passing our genes to the next generation. However Darwin, who brought the theory of human evolution to its fullest flowering, didn’t see mankind as being biologically determined to be competitive. Instead he believed that we are a profoundly social and caring species and argued that sympathy and caring for others is instinctual.
Current research has bolstered the idea that devoting resources to others, rather than focusing on ourselves, brings about lasting well-being. Additionally kindness has been found to be the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in relationships.
Kindness, similar to a muscle, develops with exercise and there are many ways to exercise it: check out randomactsofkindness.org for some ideas. Noticing others’ suffering – and offering a kind word, smile or help carrying a heavy load can all be acts of kindness. Expressions of kindness, create a sense of community which humans find contagious. Think of a time you saw someone show kindness towards someone else and how you felt? If we work toward thinking: I want to make someone’s day put a smile on their face. This can be incredibly rewarding.
As Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”.
Kindness is also about telling the truth (in a gentle way) to help the other person. Receiving accurate feedback in a loving and caring way is an important part of a healthy relationship. Kindness involves less judgement, however compelled you might be to do so. The ego is quick to judge when it is hurt, so it retaliates in revenge. Kindness does not seek to be right but to preserve peace.
“Hurt is hurt, and every time we honour our own struggle and the struggles of others by responding with empathy and compassion, the healing that results affects all of us.” -Brené Brown
Kindness includes being kind to yourself. Are you kind to yourself? Do you speak gently to yourself?
Check in with your heart and notice the feelings there.
Kindness has many benefits, it: increases happiness and heart health, slows down the aging process and improves relationships and connections, which is a feedback loop which continues to impact our health for the better. It leaves these lasting benefits on both the giver and receiver.
“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” – David Orr – University of Vermont