I have been giving kindness a lot of thought recently. It may be the approach of the holiday season, the meaning of Christmas, Channukah and other celebratory occasions. Or it simply may be that I feel like so much kindness has disappeared from our world and I am wondering how we can rekindle kindness.
I thought first I would google kindness and see what appeared. I loved the following:
Kindness makes the world a better place.
Acts of kindness can uplift your spirit in so many ways, as does being compassionate,
generous, and considerate.
Being kind is all about your genuine intentions to help everyone around you feel safe, comfortable, and understood. It’s about giving without expecting anything in return. – Rianne Capalad
Well stated certainly. As I sat with Kindness and reflected on the meaning as I see it, three qualities came to mind: Love, Respect, and Compassion.
LOVE Of course love, the unconditional variety. What do I mean by this? I find that the idea of love gets tossed around, a great deal. I also notice that most love comes with conditions, the “I love you when you do this, say that, support me, do it my way,….” Those are conditions. It is ingrained in us from an early age when parents attach love to specific ways of being or behaviours and when they fail to tell child that love is always there regardless of circumstances. There is a feeling that love has to be earned rather than being freely given and an undertone that love cannot exist even when you are angry with someone or disagree with them. Remove all these conditions however and love simply is. Which leads us to respect.
RESPECT Unconditional love suggests that respect is a given. In a world where fear is fueled by media in every possible way, respect is obliterated. We hear that other people differ from us in their belief systems and because they are different, we need to disagree with them and fear them. We are told they are dangerous. When did we become a society so insular and so homogenous that different belief systems cannot be tolerated. Believe me, we do not need to agree, and we can be respectful. Each of us experiences the world differently. We see the world through our unique set of experiences and belief systems. These are established through our families, religious upbringing, schooling and more. Why would we think that everyone should agree on the same sets of principles, on politics, on social morays, or whatever is up for grabs. Can we learn to agree to disagree and, in the moment, simply respect another person and their right to differ.
…you can also see how those around you thrive in situations where others respect them and treat them with dignity. Showing respect and being thoughtful of others really doesn’t take much. In fact, it feels a lot better to treat others in a fair and justified manner. – Steve Meuller
COMPASSION Compassion is the final quality of my kindness triad. Compassion recognizes the imperfection of humans. It acknowledges that we make mistakes, screw-up, and are not always at the top of our game. While we may intend to be a kind, loving, respectful and compassionate presence in the world every day, there are times when we clearly fail. Having compassion for oneself and others when this happens, is an act of unconditional love, respect and kindness.
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded.
It’s a relationship between equals.
Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. – Brené Brown
Offer Love, Respect and Compassion to Yourself First How many times has someone said to you, “No one loves me. I do not get any respect from my family / friends. No one truly understands me”.
As a life and business coach/facilitator, this was one of my most frequent complaints. My response:
- In what ways do you love yourself? What conditions come with your self-love?
- How do you respect yourself? Do you acknowledge the contributions that you make to your family, friends, in your work?
- When you make a mistake, do you practice self-compassion? Are you able to recognize that making mistakes is the primary source of learning?
To receive love, respect and compassion, you must offer to yourself first. Like attracts like – what we gift ourselves, others can gift us, and we can gift others.
Final Word I dream everyday of a kinder, gentler world. I hope you will share my dream and set intentions for being unconditional in your love, mindful and respectful of others and differences, and compassionate. In this holiday season, this is a gift that is free to give. I hope you give it frequently.
Your thoughts and strategies are always welcome and if you care to share you can reach me at: [email protected]