Why kindness matters (and where to begin)
Last month while leading a workshop on the west coast, my teaching assistant and I had a rude, jarring experience with another presenter. We later found out he had recently lost his partner. Consequently, our perspective of the episode shifted. Clearly he was rattled and trying to navigate his way through a fog of grief.
Earlier this fall, after a brief stint of feeling sorry for myself, I sat down with kindness and we had tea. She revealed three ways I can start to bring more kindness into my daily life:
–Practicing kindness to self. No doubt, this is just as important as extending Kindness to others. Read 4 Ways to be Kinder to Yourself.
–Extending acts of kindness to others. One of the things that pulled me out of my dark slump this past Summer, was to consciously–but quietly and often anonymously–do something kind for someone else. Every day. Whether it was bringing an unexpected meal to a sick friend, promoting a new small business owner’s work to help her get seen, sending someone who is suffering a beautiful card of love/appreciation or bringing a basket of hot tamales to a group of homeless men–these acts helped me put my issues in perspective and feel more connected to humanity’s suffering as whole. I’m continuing to do this daily.
–Adopting a kindness mindset. Often this looks like giving people the benefit of the doubt, remembering everyone has a hard load they’re carrying and acknowledging we’re all doing the best we can do (and when we know better, we’ll do better). Leaving your house each day with a “kindness mindset” shifts everything. And it’s contagious. Read Are You Choosing to Come from Love or Fear?
To explore this idea, try this popular lovingkindness meditation (thanks Jack Kornfield) before you leave your home each day:
May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be at ease and happy.
Then when you feel you have established some stronger sense of lovingkindness for yourself, you can then expand your meditation to include others. After focusing on yourself for five or ten minutes, choose a benefactor, someone in your life who is suffering or perhaps needs extra support. Picture this person and thoughtfully recite the same phrases above.
Kindness is underrated. I have been amazed to see how deeply this practice has affected my well-being and those around me when it’s a “front and center” focus. Mother Teresa shared, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
HOW CAN I SUPPORT YOU? HERE ARE TWO OPPORTUNITIES:
Schedule me to plan/facilitate a custom workshop or retreat for your company, team or organization on work-life balance, resiliency or self-renewal. Learn more and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your next event.
Renew, replenish and recharge with like-minded women at a fall self-renewal retreat. In transition and seeking clarity/support and a weekend of deep to-the-bones renewal? Join me Jan. 24-26 at Kripalu in the MA Berkshire Mountains (highly recommended!) for my New Way of Being Retreat. View all upcoming fall retreats here.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance teacher author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. She is the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 17-year-old son. More on Renee here.