Kindness is one of the most important values in my life. I often say, “Kindness is my religion and I practice it daily”. Sometimes I reflect on how particular values in my life came to be so important. Two primary influences have contributed to the emergence of kindness as an important life value. One is the impact of those people in my life that have been kind to me and the other is the impact of those who have been unkind to me. I choose kindness.
So what is kindness? Kindness is paying attention to another person with an attitude of caring, compassion, and a true desire for the other person’s well-being and happiness. These attitudes of caring compassion and gentleness then guide our behavior and actions toward the other person. Being kind to someone involves seeing the other person’s needs and responding to them if it is within our power to do so without harming ourselves. We need to be careful not to anticipate someone’s needs so that we can respond to their actual needs rather than what we think they need. It can be easy to project our own needs (for reassurance, attention, etc.) onto another person without really hearing what it is that they are actually asking for.
Kindness can take the form of a smile, a caring touch, listening, or a genuine compliment. Verbal affirmation is a clear expression of caring for another. We can affirm someone verbally simply by communicating that we understand what the person is saying and empathize with why she might feel this way. This is not the same as agreeing with someone. You may genuinely disagree with someone and still act with an attitude of kindness.
Some people confuse kindness with not having any boundaries. In other words, to some people, being kind means doing what the other person wants you to do regardless to the time, effort or inconvenience there may be to you. Kindness does not mean having no boundaries and having boundaries does not mean that you are unkind. There are many dimensions to kindness and this is just a tiny glimpse into the topic. Let’s spend some time sharing our personal thoughts and feelings about kindness.
- How important is the value of kindness in your life? What is the relationship between love and kindness?
- What is your own definition of kindness? Do you see yourself as a kind person?
- Are you also kind to yourself? What does being kind to ourselves look like?
- Who in your life stands out as having been exceptionally kind? What did they do that created your perception of them as a kind person?
- Talk about the relationship between kindness and boundaries. Have you had the experience of someone setting boundaries with you yet also being kind?
- If you want to increase your kindness toward others, how might you go about doing that?