The author of todays’s guest post is Julia Greef, a teacher, poet, blogger and artist friend I met through an international online teaching community. She is a lady of so many versatile skills, who lives across the globe from me, works and lives in a different culture, and yet we see eye to eye on so many things. I was wondering how she would answer my blog topic question ‘Is kindness overrated?’ and here it is.
IS KINDNESS OVERRATED?
by Julia Greef
Is kindness overrated?
I find this an odd question, because it seems to me the only possible answer is that kindness is very much underrated.
While a word or act of kindness may feel like a gratifying ray of sunshine on a good day – something that enhances our day but doesn’t necessarily make or break it; when we are down, suffering, worn into the ground, dejected, feeling alone, struggling, in despair, carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders and at a loss for what to do, a simple word or act of kindness can pierce our heart with its gentleness and have us weeping tears of gratitude. It can restore our faith in not only humanity, but in life itself; and it can radically transform lives – both our own and the lives of others.
When we are touched by an act of kindness we are jolted suddenly out of our everyday preoccupations into our heart space. As we make this move from head to heart, our heart opens and expands and we feel more at ease; more centered; more aligned with ourselves, with our world and with the Universe. We are brought back to the truth of who we are as we are reminded of the endless capacity for love and compassion that lies at the heart of all of us. So a word or act of kindness is a potent healing force, bringing us back to ourselves and our intrinsic wholeness.
When we touch the life of someone else with kindness, all the blessings that are bestowed on them are also bestowed on us. We feel more present, more connected, more vibrantly alive. We feel this ‘rush’ of kindness expand from our heart into every cell of our body. By choosing to be kind we are actively expressing the highest and most noble part of who we are; knowing this we feel beautiful from the inside out. And, I ask, what better feeling is there than that?
If you really want to start to feel good about yourself; your day; your week; your life, choosing to incorporate conscious words and acts of kindness into your day-to-day life is one of the best ways to go. Scientific research has found a multitude of benefits related to ‘practicing’ kindness – from reduced stress and increased self-esteem to greater happiness and an all-round sense of well-being. It would seem that kindness is as much a healing force in the life of the person being kind as it is in the life of the person on the receiving end of the kindness.
So our kindness is a precious gift we give to others and, at the same time, a legacy of love that we bestow on ourselves. Quite apart from all the aforementioned benefits, it is my belief that we can only know the beauty and the depth of our most essential nature, can only appreciate our own intrinsic worth and value, when we cultivate kindness. And as we do so we grow in love; both for ourselves and for all of existence.
Just to make a good thing even better, kindness is never more than a fingertip’s breadth away. We always have the choice to be kind in any and all situations. And every time we make this choice, we are honouring both ourself and the other – demonstrating our deep respect for the divine spark of life in them, which in and of itself is enough to render them worthy of our love; and, at the same time, showing our deep respect for the life that we are by choosing right action and the expression of the highest aspect of our being.
And when we choose to be kind in the face of persistent unkindness… The world may see it as our weakness; but I am of the opinion that in that capacity for kindness lies our strength, our beauty and our grace.
Far from being overrated, I don’t think we can ever really know the deep and penetrating significance of our kindnesses. Every time we choose kindness we radiate love and well-being out into the world; and this is a world that is in desperate need of such tremendously potent and powerful healing energies.
We literally have no idea how profoundly one word of kindness from us, one single act, can impact another. That one word of kindness, that one loving action, may be the one that helps them turn the corner in their life.
And let us make no mistake, a single act of kindness is by no means a single act of kindness. It sends ripples out into the world, touching the lives of all of those in its wake in an ever-growing circle of grace. A ‘solitary’ act of kindness is like a single drop of rain in a paddy field, sending out ripples that effortlessly expand to its very banks.
If more people were kind more often, imagine what a different world this would be.
Kindness being a choice we make in each moment, this is not just some impossible pipe dream too good to be true. We can create a world rooted in kindness, and the place to start is with ourselves.
I’m quite sure you’re already kind; because kindness, love and compassion seem to be impulses that are an intrinsic part of us. It’s like we have a compulsion deep within us to be kind. A need to allow this loving, compassionate part of us pour forth in words and actions that send ripples throughout the world – right to its very ‘banks.’
But however kind you already are, it is also true that you could choose right now to consciously sow more words and acts of kindness ‘on your turf.’
Try it and see how it makes the people around you feel.
See how it makes you feel.
See how your relationships blossom and your days grow in happiness, as you honour the divine spark of life in yourself and the divine spark of life in others in this way.
I can promise you the ripples will be far-reaching.
If enough of us commit to this we can transform the world, for we are the ones making the world in which we live – which means we are the ones with the power to change it.
I’d like to finish with the words of the Dalai Lama:
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
This, for me, says it all.