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.
Later that week 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. When we’re kind to ourselves, we soften and relax into our relationships. We’re less reactive and more present and curious.
–Extending acts of kindness to others. One of the things that always pulls me out of a slump is to consciously–but quietly and often anonymously–do something kind for someone else. Every day. Whether it’s 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 friends–these acts help me put my issues in perspective and feel more connected to humanity’s suffering as whole.
–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. Ask: in this moment, am I choosing to come from love or fear?
To explore this idea, pause before you leave your home each day, put your hand on your heart and say the following (thanks Jack Kornfield):
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 a 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.”
THREE OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE YOUR SELF-CARE AND WELL-BEING A PRIORITY:
- Friday, Oct. 28th 9 – 4:30pm ~ Awakening Your Wild Soul: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat **TWO SPOTS JUST OPENED; REGISTER TODAY!** Laugh, renew in nature, enjoy deep rest, authentic connection, community with like-minded women and learn the art/science of self-care. Learn more. Want to receive updates on special Wild Souls NC events? Email info at reneetrudeau dot com and ask to be added to our regional mailing list.
- Nov. 3 – Feb. 9th ~ Re-Imagining: A Self-Renewal Group for Women in their 50’s (in person). These are the conversations you wish you were having. This is one of the most powerful decades for creativity and transformation. We need each other. In-person, 7 sessions, in the Asheville, NC area. Details here; email email@example.com before registering to make sure there’s room.
- Jan. 27 – 29th ~ Awakening Your Wild Soul: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, the largest retreat center in North America and my fav (don’t delay; this meditative, deeply replenishing winter retreat always sells out). Learn more.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, Renee has been facilitating high-impact, interactive workshops for Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits/conferences and organizations worldwide for 25 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, AARP, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 450 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups based on her pioneering self-care curriculum. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. She and her husband live in Western North Carolina and Austin, Texas; her latest venture is Wild Souls Nature Adventures. More on Renee here.