Spare me if I sound like a broken record, but I’ve been reflecting a lot on the type of world we live in and what’s become of it. I guess the more you look, the more you see. I only have myself to blame.
We live in a divided world, a world full of harsh realities and acts of cruelty. Though the Earth continues to rotate on its axis and a new day dawns, lately, despite the light, darkness prevails. The unfortunate truth – yes we have taken steps to ‘advance’ society but at what cost?
In a criticizing and judgment-filled world, we feel good about pointing the finger and having someone or something to blame. It avoids the hard truth of looking within when your thoughts are distracted by the opinions you have of others. It’s a common tactic that allows one to escape their introspection by focusing on everyone else. The same principle applies to our mindset on change. We often fall short. We ‘hide’ behind the idea of monumental change, change in the masses that we deem as the only effective way to make a difference. Blaming our societal backslide on the lack of collective change instead of prioritizing change on a smaller scale, a little bit closer to home. Change that starts with you. We need not aim big when we lack the fundamentals.
In a selfish world currently spiraling while societal cracks deepen, I believe the call for action begins within. We have been leading with our untamed ‘all too human’ dark side but, we must balance society again. The scales have been tipping too far on one side. Our world is suffocating with human greed & the desire for power that operates from a level of selfishness that ultimately fucks over the next person. The cycle continues.
So what can we do to tip the scales in favour of all mankind?
The need to gravitate towards humanity couldn’t come at a more pressing time. Through the trauma and crises that unfold, we need a way to connect again by heading back to the basics.
I’m not talking about the type of kindness you practice when others are watching or when you expect something in return but rather the good old-fashioned kind that operates from a pure place. A place – without the incessant need of gratitude and reciprocation. It’s as if kindness has become a nostalgic childhood memory. We reminisce on our days of sharing and offering compassion in simple acts. Rummaging through our memories, trying to recall our youthful innocence when we helped the elderly with their grocery bags and gave up our seats for the old, ill, or pregnant. Or the day we allowed someone to cut in front of us in a line or stopped to assist someone lost, whichever act it may be, nowadays it seems like a foreign concept. Nevertheless, its indeed society’s cure.
I’ll be honest anyone who knows me would hesitate to label me as a kind individual. I would have to agree. For a long time I struggled with being kind, often falling victim to my trauma and expecting the worst from everyone. I had a twisted view of associating kindness with weakness. Headstrong on being resilient, I didn’t expect kindness or practice it. Instead, I heard Ellen end each show with the words ‘Be Kind’ but failed to see the need. Things changed when I realized the turmoil I saw in the world was the projection of what I felt inside. An aspect (kindness) I demanded to see but never devoted myself to doing. We must inspire a kinder world by normalizing kindness among ourselves. I have since owned that fault and continue to work on it. We are constantly growing and evolving it’s never too late to embrace your good nature by showing compassion. Begin with the understanding that everyone walks a different path unique to them. It’s not your place to judge their experience but rather to offer empathy. Life presents ups and downs acknowledge that everyone goes through pain and difficulties, but choose whether you’re going to add to it or lend a helping hand.
Know that you cannot walk their path but you can lighten the load. An idea that has motivated me in my pursuit of being kind.
In terms of mental health, the benefits of both giving and receiving kindness are endless. Being kind not only gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart, but it improves your emotional and mental well-being. You could be in a negative space when a kind act you perform, impacts the next person and encourages you to focus on the positive. Being caring and empathetic removes the negative energies and vibes you may be experiencing. There is no room for intense emotions like anger or hate when and after a good deed is in effect. Welcome the good energies and use them to attract more positive vibes. I’m a firm believer in the idea that the vibe you give out is the vibe you’ll attract. Put it to work and tell me if you disagree.
Acts of kindness improve one’s physical health, believe it or not. Think about it, stressed individuals often experience headaches or muscle tension. But their side- effects are reduced through good deeds that produce endorphins in your body. Endorphins and happy hormones relieve the stress and ease both mental and physical tension. Many individuals who experience depression and anxiety feel isolated. Being kind serves as an antidote that offers a sense of belonging, it provides purpose and makes one feel valued. The power of altruism is unmatched. Rooted in our ancestry and evolution, altruistic values have a compelling hold on humanity. Altruism is our unselfish concern for others. It is the desire to promote others’ well-being even at the risk of your own. Like the time you gave your lunch away at school, it served to aid someone’s hunger at the expense of you being hungry. It is a core value that makes us uniquely human and has sustained our species survival. We naturally tend to cooperate but are motivated by competition.
Behaving in an altruistic manner boosts our self-esteem and encourages selfless acts in the community. These are the type of ripple effects we need.
We must be kinder to ourselves.
We are often our worse critics picking ourselves apart and rejecting the ‘undesirable traits.’ We need to make peace with every aspect of ourselves, the good, the bad, and the ugly. When we make friends with the parts we dismiss, it allows us to heal and accept ourselves, making us more compassionate.
The way you feel about yourself improves with kindness. We feel proud of demonstrating goodwill and showing up for each other. It provides an interconnectedness that together we lack.
Let’s use World Kindness Day to remind us that we possess the power to make a difference. Start by calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while or complimenting a stranger. Try letting someone jump the queue in the supermarket or open the door for the next person. We have to stir the change in ourselves before we tackle the world.