How to Give and Receive Kindness

How to Give and Receive Kindness

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Aesop

In the last few posts, we have explored what kindness is and its power and benefits on you and the world.  In this post we will explore ways to integrate the practice of giving and receiving kindness into your life.

Kindness begins with yourself.

Be kind to yourself when you take a misstep. Notice if you judge yourself for making mistakes or not doing something according to a preconceived notion of how it should look.  As you become more aware of that, practice letting the judgment go.  Find something to appreciate about yourself instead.  Take some time each day for yourself.  Something that you enjoy or feels nurturing.  

Begin with compassion, then with kindness.

Recognize that we all have challenges before making a an assumption or judgment about another person or situation.  Sometimes an act of kindness is simply holding back our criticism and/or trying to see things from the other persons perception.  I love the quote “Never judge someone unless you have walked a mile in their shoes.”  Understand that everyone is doing the best they can.  Look for something that you can compliment in others.  

Be of service to others.

Do at least one kind act for someone close to you, an acquaintance or stranger or yourself every day. It can be as simple as bringing a coworker a cup of coffee or giving a stranger a smile.

Choose to be kind even when others are not.

Being kind is a choice you have every day.  It can be difficult being kind when the another person is not being kind.  Yet, being unkind back can often lead to ongoing conflict.  Saying or doing something kind can reverse a situation.  

Give for the sake of giving.

Don’t expect anything in return. When you give kindness expecting thanks or some form of credit, it is self-serving and some form of making the recipient feel indebted. The rewards are better when we are kind without expecting any payback.

I heard a story about a little boy from a family who had very little money. He really wanted fishing lures but had no money to buy them. This anonymous person bought a handful of fishing lures and a package of gummy worms and left them in the family mailbox along with a note saying they were free. The boy was thrilled, and the anonymous person was filled with happiness at seeing the boys joy. Now that is kindness!

Practice being kind more often.

Like everything, we become kinder the more we do it. Random acts of kindness get easier. Do one small, kind thing each day for someone and pay attention to the impact you make. Notice the impact of kindness on the other person.  And notice how it makes you feel.  Being kind is its own reward.  It will make you feel lighter, kinder and notice more opportunities to be kind.

Kindness is contagious.

Be the one who shows kindness every day and others will begin to do the same. Be the boss, leader, coworker, family member or neighbor who people follow your actions in kindness.  When you are kind to someone, it make them feel good.  They will naturally spread that.

Kindness lasts.

When you do an act of kindness for someone or it’s done for you, it is remembered. Maybe you were shy in college and you had a staff member compliment you on your looks. Do you still remember the unexpected kindness? How do you want to be remembered?

I remember as a child visiting my aunts.  I was impressed with the kindness they showed me.  I don’t remember the details, but I do remember the feeling that I had around them. 

In Summary: 

Studies have shown that when we do kind things it makes us happier and increases our self-love and respect. Doing some act of kindness daily can put you in a better mood more often. Go ahead and do some random small act of kindness today!

Awareness Practice:  

This week, observe the role of kindness in your life.  Contemplate ways that you can include the practice of kindness on an ongoing basis.  Which of the above suggestions appeal to you?  How might you incorporate them into your life. 

 

May kindness fill your heart,

Bindu

Transform Negative Situations with Kindness

Transform Negative Situations with Kindness

The Transformation of Negativity with Kindness

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” —Ian Maclaren

There are times in life when you are stressed, frustrated or angry with yourself, someone or a situation. You may end up annoyed, rude and sending out negative emotions. Learning how to manage your negative reactions in stressful situations with kindness is key to staying centered and balanced.

Begin with Kindness toward Yourself

First and foremost, forgive yourself for being human.  Acknowledge what you are feeling and accept that as part of being human.  It is simply what you are feeling in the moment.

Acknowledge and Accept Your own Emotions. 

What are your feeling?  Anger, sadness, fear, worry, frustration? Emotion is short for energy in motion.  Once you are aware of your own emotions, allow yourself to slow down and deepen your breath.  Experiment with feeling the emotion without needing to suppress it or act outward with it.  See it as an energy moving through you.  Your only need is to feel it and experience it.

Inquire into the Emotion

What is creating the stress and negative emotions? Are you overwhelmed at work? Is it a person that is triggering the emotion? Discovering what is triggering  the emotion can assist in transforming it.  Sometimes simply feeling the emotion and inquiring into it will defuse the emotion.

Often, under an emotion is an unmet need.  Perhaps you don’t feel heard.  Perhaps you feel slighted or disrespected.  Maybe you feel unloved or unaccepted.  Maybe you feel threatened or attacked.  Maybe you feel left out or disconnected.  By understanding the unmet need, you can more clearly understand what you need.

Ask yourself what you need.

Do you need to feel love, valued, appreciated, respected?  Perhaps you need to feel safe or secure.  Maybe you need more space or freedom.  Maybe you need to feel included and heard.  By understanding what you need, you can explore ways to get that need met.

Listen to hear what the other person needs.

While it is important to feel our emotions and understand our triggers and needs.  It is also important to understand what the other person feels and needs.  When we understand both, we can work together with the other person(s) to find a win/win resolution. 

Ask, what can I do to take care of myself.

Sometime the need can be met from within.  By accepting yourself even when another is criticizing you.  By, taking a walk and giving yourself some breathing room.  By speaking your voice, sharing your perspective or opinion.  Listening to the other person, perhaps drawing them out with questions.  Maybe by removing yourself from an unsafe situation.  The choices are unlimited.  Your inner self will be able to guide you.

Change What You Can

If an external change needs to happen take action.  Speak your voice, walk out of the room, go for a walk.  Once you find the root cause, take action to change it. If it cannot be changed, can it be cut from your life? While making changes, cut out other stress triggers as much as possible. Change negative thought and communication patterns into more positive ones.

Incorporate Healthy Outlets

Regular exercise can give you an emotional lift and an outlet for negative emotions. Physical movement helps to clear emotions from you body.  Take a warm bath.  Meditation can help to calm the mind and get a better perspective.  Volunteering and helping others may help see things with a different perspective.

Respond to Negativity with Kindness

By responding to negativity with kindness, you can diffuse a potentially negative outcome.  Here are some tips to try:  

1.  Don’t mirror others negative actions and thoughts. Treat them kindly. This could mean apologizing if it’s appropriate. Acknowledge other’s points of view without judging.

2.  Speak in a pleasant, friendly voice as if you were talking to a friend. Keep your voice controlled and without anger.

3.  Keep an open and relaxed body posture. Don’t roll your eyes, sigh or make other negative body language movements.

4.  Breathe! Take a few long, slow, deep breaths in through your nose, pause slightly, then let your breath out. Deep breathing relaxes you and re-centers your emotions.  It puts you and others at ease.

5.  Distract yourself by engaging in something pleasant or helping someone else.

In Summary

Just because you are stressed doesn’t mean you need to react negatively to others. Instead, act in a way that is kind and considerate of the feelings of all involved.  Seek to understand your needs and the needs of others concerned.  Dialogue in a way that communicates your needs and also be able to hear the needs of the others involved.  Work towards a win/win solution.  

By holding the intention to create a positive outcome, negative situations can be transformed into a co-creation and positive situation for all concerned.  

As Mother Teresa’s poem titled Anyway, states:

“People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.”

Contemplation for this week:

1. Create and intention be more aware of your thoughts and emotions in a difficult situation.

2.  Experiment with inquiring inwardly to understand your underlying needs. 

3. Listen more fully to others with and intention of listening for their underlying need. 

4.  Experiment with some of the suggestions in this article for transforming negativity into something positive.  

 

Wishing you peace,

Bindu

Personal Benefits of Kindness

Personal Benefits of Kindness

Personal Benefits of Kindness

The benefits from kindness are more than just feeling good. Kindness affects both our emotional and physical body in different ways.  Here are some of the benefits of being and showing kindness to others.

  • Kindness slows down the aging process. People who volunteer tend to experience less aches and pains than others. Kindness and helping others will protect your health in the same way aspirin helps against heart disease.
  • It improves our relationships and connections with others. Kindness helps us relate to other people and have more positive relationships with everyone we encounter.
  • Kindness increases happiness. In a study by The Journal of Social Psychology, who practiced an act of kindness or tried something new each day enjoyed a higher level of happiness than those who didn’t make any changes.
  • The release of feel-good hormones happens from acts of kindness. Doing nice things for others can increase your serotonin levels. These are the neurotransmitters responsible for our feelings of satisfaction and well-being. Kindness also releases the endorphins known as the “helper’s high”.
  • Kindness improves our own self-respect and self-love. It makes us happier and in a better mood more often by doing kind acts often. Buy someone coffee or lunch, help someone in need or volunteer your time to get the pick-me-up you need.
  • Kindness helps prevent illnesses caused from inflammation. These health problems include diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, obesity and migraines. Volunteering seems to lower the levels of inflammation. Oxytocin is released, even from small acts of kindness, which in turn reduces inflammation. Share a smile, make a donation, help others in some small to feel the effects of kindness.
  • Kindness eases your anxiety, whether it’s mild nervousness or you’re having severe panic. Being nice to others is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to fight of anxiety. Look for ways to help others when you are feeling anxious. Smile at someone, call a friend or lend your time to an organization.
  • It is good for your heart. Kindness not only makes your heart feel good; it also affects the actual chemical balance of your heart. It releases the hormone oxytocin which reduces blood pressure thereby protecting the heart.
  • Kindness helps reduce stress. Helping others lets you move away from your own worries and problems.

For those of us with fibromyalgia, taking on extra responsibilities may be daunting or impossible.  If that is the case, begin at home.  Begin where you are.  How can you offer simple acts of kindness in your everyday life?  A smile, a kind word, a compliment.  Holding back on an unkind word.  

Remember yourself among those you are kind to.  Compliment yourself.  Remind yourself of the things that you are strong in.  Counter an inner criticism with a compliment.  Stop a moment to take a breath or gaze at a flower.   

Incorporate the smallest acts of kindness every day. You’ll notice changes in how it affects your life and begin to see the ripple effects on other people as well.

 

May you experience kindness in your heart.

Until next week,

Bindu

Power of Kindness on You and the World

Power of Kindness on You and the World

 Our societal norm has become “me first”

The type of society we live in has become known as “me first”. We’re taught early on to look out for ourselves first, and many do that. We’re self-focused, self-possessed and find it difficult to see beyond ourselves at those around us. We often don’t see how our actions affect others.

But our actions do affect others, sometimes in large ways and sometimes in small ways that create a wave of actions. The Butterfly Effect in Chaos Theory states that on tiny event in one area of the globe can have a substantial effect somewhere else. The same is true with small acts of kindness.

Every time kindness is performed it creates a ripple effect.

It spreads from person to person, continuing endlessly. You could say kindness is contagious, like a disease in which the outcome is beautiful.

Kindness keeps us from being short tempered with others when we’re stressed and frustrated. It helps people realize we’re all on the same team.

Jamil Zaki, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and Director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Lab conducted a series of studies observing how witnessing kindness inspires kindness, saying it causes it to spread like a virus.

Zaki says, “We find that people imitate not only the particulars of positive actions, but also the spirit underlying them. This implies is that kindness itself is contagious, and that that it can cascade across people, taking on new forms along the way. 

When we were to look at how important an act of kindness can help someone in need, we realize how it can empower both ourselves and others.

Today, we are bombarded with social media and news media that focuses on the negative interactions that affect us.  It’s seen in the victims of bullying, of abuse, and of those who abuse their power.  Even our entertainment is often riddled with abusive comments and negative actions.

Helping the disabled person who is struggling to gather items out their reach can change the course of their day. By giving a hungry person something to eat or helping a homeless person find shelter can change their outlook on life. Helping an elderly neighbor carry in groceries, mow their yard or just check on them occasionally, can help them feel less lonely. If you say thank you, please, and hello to others who are serving you, you brighten their day.

 

If you perform even the smallest act of kindness, you have the potential to change the course of persons life, even if only for a short period of time.

But kindness not only effects the one you are performing it for. It has a positive effect on you as well.

  • When you are kind to someone, your body gets a surge in serotonin, feel-good endorphins and oxytocin, all hormones that promote a natural high.
  • These hormones reduce pain and lower bread pressure, helping you feel relaxed and loved.
  • The person you are kind to will experience this surge in hormones too. And anyone who witnesses the act of kindness will feel the same feel-good effects.

Kindness fuels curiosity to know each other better. It helps us hear each other without putting up any pretenses. It’s considering other people and what they experience and their concerns and how you can make their lives easier.

 

Kindness is contagious.

It ripples and grows, effecting the unsuspecting and the observing. One act of kindness can change thousands of lives.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you did, they will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

For those of us with fibromyalgia, simple acts of kindness can contribute to rebuilding our health.

Simple acts of kindness remind us that we have something to offer others and the world.  When we offer kindness to another, we feel that kindness within our own heart, which helps to heal any hurt that we carry within.  The ripple effect not only impacts others, but our own heart. 

 

Contemplation for this week:

Become more aware of the balance of selfishness and kindness in your world.  What brings selfishness into your world?  What brings kindness into your world?  What can you do to tip the balance toward the kindness side?  Remember to include yourself in your acts of kindness!

 

 

May kindness fill your heart, mind and soul,

Bindu

The Power of Kindness

The Power of Kindness

The Power of Kindness 

“Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

Can you remember the last time somebody was kind to you? Or when you were kind to someone else? Do you remember their reaction?

Kindness leaves a lasting impression on both the user and the experiencer.

Kindness isn’t one of those things we think about every day. And rarely do we think about it having profound effect on the world around us. Kindness is in fact, often underrated and disregarded. This is in part because people who are kind are often viewed as “enablers” or “suckers” by the cynical.

In this fast-paced world, kindness and compassion often takes a back seat. Selfies, self-interest and interacting through the online world only keeps us from being kind.

Many people today are so absorbed in their own life that they often forget how powerful being kind to others can be. Most don’t expect others to go out of their way and do something for them and not expect any reward or recognition in return.

Kindness is one of the essentials to our existence. From birth we are nurtured in kindness. Therefore, kindness is a part of our DNA. 

What is kindness, anyway?

According to Psychology Today, “Kindness means a behavioral response of compassion and actions that are selfless; or a mindset that places compassion for others before one’s own interests.”

Kindness is the ways both big and small, that we express compassion, concern, consideration and care for ourselves and others. Kindness transcends race, religion, social class and language barriers.

Being kind has a big impact on the world around us and on ourselves in ways that most don’t realize. It has many benefits including increasing our happiness and helping us have a healthy heart.

You probably don’t realize you’re performing many kindnesses every day. Simple things like smiling and greeting others in a friendly way, complimenting someone about their hair, clothes, laugh or something they do are acts of kindness.

Helping someone in some way, opening a door or saying thank you, please or excuse me are kind acts. It shows kindness when you don’t gossip, find fault in others or make negative judgments either.

This Week’s Contemplation: 

This week, pay more attention to the role of kindness in your life.  Ask yourself the following questions.  Remember that there is not right or wrong.  This is simply an exercise in awareness.  

  1. What does kindness mean to you?
  2. Do others treat you with kindness? 
  3. Do you treat others with kindness? 
  4. How do you see that in your life?   

By contemplating these questions, you will be increasing the awareness of kindness in your life.  Again, there is no right or wrong.  This is an exercise in awareness.   

Enjoy,

Bindu

Freedom from Trapped Emotions

Freedom from Trapped Emotions

We are taught in our society to suppress our emotions. 

That is a huge travesty.  

Often depression and chronic anxiety is caused by not feeling our emotions.  The habit of suppressing our emotions creates a backlog.  That backlog of unfelt emotions can feel very overwhelming.  When we suppress our negative emotions, we also suppress our ability to feel positive emotions.  By becoming more aware of our emotions, and allowing ourselves to feel them, we can reduce the backlog and move towards emotional freedom. 

What if much of what you feel is from your past?

What if much of the anxiety you feel has nothing to do with your present?  What if much of the sadness that you feel is trapped emotions from your past?  When you encounter experiences in your present that remind you of the past experience, the emotion comes up. 

The emotional hamster wheel 

When an emotion comes up, we can spend years, trying to change our outer circumstance so that we don’t feel the emotion.  That is a hamster wheel that never ends.  And it creates its own stress.  

We have all kinds of defense mechanisms that we use to avoid feeling our emotions.  Over thinking, creating a story about it, analyzing, obsessing, blaming others, blaming ourselves, isolating ourselves, going to numerous practitioners, trying to change our circumstances, taking masses of supplements, etc.   

Freeing ourself from trapped emotions 

The only way to free yourself from an emotion is to feel it.  Emotion stands for energy in motion.  When you do not feel an emotion, it does not move through you and it gets stuck.  When it gets stuck in your energy field, it continually sends a signal to your nervous system which contributes to insomnia.  It also blocks the flow of energy in your meridians and interferes with the functioning of the body and organs. 

A suggested practice to help you feel emotions 

Here is a practice that can help you to feel your emotions and release them.  When you feel an emotion coming on:

  1. Deepen your breath.
  2. Feel the emotion whether it be sadness, anger, fear, etc.
  3. Avoid getting into an internal dialogue about the emotion.
  4. Remind yourself that you don’t need to act on the emotion.
  5. Keep saying, “this is only an energy that is moving through me. I am willing to feel it and let it go”
  6. Try this for 5 minutes.
  7. Notice if there is a difference. 

Afterwards, take some time to reflect on your experience.  Did this help?  Were you able to do it?  Did it feel to scary to feel an emotion?  

Let go of any self-judgments that might have come up.  This takes time and practice.    Post in the “I Want to be Healthy” Facebook page any questions about your experience.  We are in this together. 

May you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you be free. 

Bindu