Spurred by the success of the gratitude practice, we decided to host a practice community on kindness. Our motivation was twofold:
- Firstly, kindness has many benefits on one's own well-being. It uplifts emotions. It can help decrease pain and reduce stress. It creates a feeling of meaning and self-worth. It even improves physical health in older people.
- Secondly, the timing seemed right. With a raging pandemic, we often feel helpless and insignificant in the larger scheme of things. If there is one thing we can always do in these times, it is to be kind to ourselves and to others.
And so it began! Over the 21-days, people shared 300 stories of kindness. Here is a glimpse of some stories that were shared!
We closed out by listening to the participants’ reflections. I am capturing the essence of what emerged in our sharing here:
- Kindness is not a matter of privilege — anyone can be kind, any time. It is a choice, not a matter of obligation, or fitting in a norm.
- It doesn’t matter if your act of kindness is big or small. What matters is doing it with the right intention.
- We are inherently kind, but sometimes, we deny it to fit notions that we have about ourselves.
- It is harder for some of us to be kind to ourselves or others because we worry we will lower the bar of excellence. This is not true — constructive feedback in itself is a way of caring for someone’s growth!
- We can be kind even to those who we feel are adversaries, and this realization can shift how we feel!
- Acts of kindness give people peace. It helps people find little joys and hopes on an everyday basis!
- We are all connected. If we can see everybody around us as one with us, then kindness becomes our default mode.
In the words of one of our participants, “This journey made me realize that I have to be kinder to myself and that I am capable of slowing down. Being more positive really helped me. I also realized that I have to appreciate my surroundings more and tell my family how much I love and appreciate them. They know, but just reminding them made them so happy and made me even happier.”
At the end of the 21 days, it didn’t matter whether people were able to complete the prompts. It didn’t matter if they couldn’t share their reflections. What mattered most is how doing these acts of kindness made them feel! See this word cloud that captures the trends.
Kindness is deeply beneficial to the self, to others, and our world. Give it a shot. Do something new you haven’t done before. Appreciate something about yourself, or a family member or coworker. Listen to someone’s story with an open heart and mind. Do something to bring a smile to an invisible human being who makes your life run seamlessly — a milkman, a delivery person, a security guard, etc. Take an action to nurture another species or our planet.
You will see from your own experience that what we learned in the practice community is true. Once you realize this, every moment then presents you with an opportunity to be kind.
Opportunities to Contribute: