Practicing Kindness

Can you remember the last time somebody was kind to you? How did it make you feel? Now imagine how others must feel when you are kind to them. Kindness is vital to human existence and is an important value to harness. The world is currently suffering in many ways, and that, in turn, means people are too. Everyone has a different story, a different walk of life, and a different viewpoint, but that does not mean we should not be kind. It’s saddening to see that hostility seems to be the go-to over differences between opinions over wearing masks to getting vaccinated to dealing with inflation to political strife.

It’s common for our instincts to mirror incoming impulses- to meet frustration or aggression with the same emotions, for example. The challenge in addressing chaos is something that doesn’t come naturally to most people — getting out of reactive mode and into interactive mode. When someone disagrees with us, we tend to judge the person instead of the behavior that the person is demonstrating. That opens the door for hatred and shuts down any opportunity for discussion or healthy debate. We may dislike the other person's behavior but that has nothing to do with who they are, and when we jump to hostility and hatred, we no longer see them as people just like us. We see them as an opponent and a threat. So how do we return to a more civilized world in the midst of all of this hostility? The answer may be as simple as kindness.

Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It’s also the capacity to feel for another’s unhappiness or misfortune, and sympathetic concern for the well-being of others. The opposite of kindness is cruelty, harshness, hatred, hostility and cold-heartedness. It’s important to keep in mind that despite what we see on the news and social media, there are probably many more kind people than hostile people on the planet. Kindness just isn’t sexy enough to sell advertising, so we typically see the worst of humanity instead of the best, unfortunately. But I think after what we’ve all been through, a little more kindness might be in order.

What does kindness have to do with mindfulness? Well, first, you can’t be kind without paying attention to the present moment situation. Second, mindfulness is simply the act of present-moment and non-judgmental awareness, so based on that definition, doesn’t necessarily do anything for others. It takes actions to live mindfully and it is through kindness and compassion that the spirit of mindfulness comes alive.