Kindness is about genuinely caring for those around you; wanting the best for them as you do for yourself and this is something that is really important to me and hope very visible in what I say and do. It is about creating a warmness and trust but it is also about creating resilience.
I see kindness a bit like a smile. You don’t need to speak the same language as the receiver to feel the warmth of it, nor do you have to be on the receiving end to feel the benefit of it. I’m rereading Flourish by Dr Martin Selligman at the moment and he says that ‘doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in wellbeing of any exercise they’ve tested’.
That is such an interesting fact in the world that we’re now living. Currently I experience a period of each day that is focused on mindset or wellbeing for example what we can do more of or less of to have a positive effect on the mental health of our people. And when it comes down to it, kindness has a lot to do with it.
When we are kind to others we all benefit. As a receiver we grow taller, feel prouder and of course much happier. As a giver, I just feel that I’ve done the ‘right’ thing and hope that it will have a positive impact on that person’s life, whether that’s through kind words or actions. You know I love my quotes, but this Lao Tze quote is one of my favourites:
‘Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.’
However, kindness isn’t about doing something to get something back in return. If you think that being nice or kind to someone will manipulate them into giving you something you want, you have misunderstood the meaning!! This is deluded kindness about self-interest and being calculated in your approach and you will often fall flat on your face as you create more harm than good. When people are wanting to influence through kindness I often remind them of Al Ritter’s 100/0 principle which talks about giving without expecting anything back.
My whole purpose in doing what I do is to make people feel more confident and competent in their abilities whether that is at work or at home. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I wasn’t kind to myself. I’ve struggled with being my harshest critic for many years – that good old imposter syndrome, that I’m sure many of you are aware of. I thought I was Wonder Woman. The expectations that I’d have of myself were massive and I’d be really disappointed in myself if I didn’t achieve everything on my list by the end of each day. As I was in the middle of reprimanding myself one day I had a light bulb moment! Would I ever use such harsh words when talking to any of my friends, family or clients? Of course not! I’d be caring and nurturing and look for ways to build them up rather than knock them down. So why was it okay to speak to myself in such a way? Whenever I hear that critical voice raise it’s head now, I ask myself the same question and it’s interesting to see how much kinder I have become toward myself.
So with these thoughts in mind and as it is World Kindness Day, I’d like to ask you to find one wholly unexpected kind thing you can do today for someone else and just do it. You might be taking time out to do a favour, helping someone with their work, really listening to someone without interrupting … there are hundreds of opportunities to show your kindness. And afterwards, observe yourself and see what happens to your mood.
I don’t know who said ‘a little spark of kindness can put a colossal burst of sunshine into someone’s day’, but they were absolutely right.
Look after yourself and let’s all start to brighten our days with more kindness!