Kindness

Kindness can be seen as the expression of your humanity and love through your actions and words; people who are kind act differently and talk differently than those who are not. Now, while kindness might seem like a subsection of love, it is possible to love without being kind, and it is possible to be kind without feeling love. Kindness is a talent and skill as well as an expression of love.

Even if you are generally kind to the people you love, you need to develop a habit of being kind consistently and continually in all your behavior if you want to be a truly good person. Nobody can be perfect in their love or kindness, but it is possible to get much closer to perfection in kindness when compared to love. Having kindness in everything you do will prevent you from damaging your relationship with your spouse when you are angry or for some reason are filled with less love; if you have made a habit of kindness, your children will doubt your intentions less when you have to discipline them; and your friends won't feel abandoned when you are going through rough times because you will still show kindness to them when you don't have the energy to love them as fully as you usually do—these are just some of the examples when kindness will come into play even in your relationships that are generally filled with love.

Loving humanity despite its imperfections is also a difficult task, but when you practice kindness you ensure that even when your hearts sours a bit that you treat everyone with the dignity that their birthright deserves. Once people realize that you are kind, they will open up to you more and entrust you with more since they know they can depend upon your good behavior—and that isn't always something you can promise as consistently with love.

The short of it is, make sure that you express your love in kindness and also make it a habit to protect the ones you love during instances where your love fails.

Here are some activities that might help you develop kindness:

Activities

  • Do Three Kind Things Daily: Do a kind thing daily is a mantra you might have heard before, or at least variations of it, but kindness often only takes a few seconds so you're likely able to slip a few more moments in. Make a goal and try to actively look for opportunities to give kindness.
  • Do One Nice Thing Unasked, Daily: While the people who angrily demand you on a daily basis to do things unasked will never be satisfied, you can make everyone feel appreciated by doing something kind for them without being asked. Choose a person, and give out that kindness!
  • Offer to Enjoy Something that You Usually Turn Down: Maybe you don't like to go to movies, or maybe you don't usually like to attend poetry readings, but chances are there is something a friend of yours would like to do that you rarely agree to do with them. Unless the experience is truly awful, the rewards of this kindness usually outweigh the unpreferred activity.
  • Make or Find Free or Cheap Gifts to Give to Friends: You can make crafts or pick flowers, or you can find some cheap doodad that you know a friend might find amusing. Don't try to buy their appreciation, but instead spend more thought on the gifts. An occasional surprise makes your appreciation apparent and really helps you stand out.
  • Keep a Tally of the Unseen Scoreboard: Some people swear by the idea that there is an unseen scoreboard that people use to see if you are reciprocating the effort and time they put into you. While you are working on your virtues, on the other hand, and will base your decisions on true wisdom rather than bitterness, there is no need to tempt others by being rude or unthoughtful. Try to keep track of all the people who are kind to you and return their kindness to them. Even when you "catch up," these are the people who you depend on most and you should go ahead and pass ahead of them every once in a while. This is also an essential exercise for "Social Intelligence."
  • Pay Attention to what People Really Want from You: Try to see which behaviors of yours make your individual friends happy and which ones don't. Some will love sincere compliments, while others will naturally distrust them but would love to be offered help on menial chores. You have to pay attention to your own needs too, but don't let your own desires rule alone over your behavior in your friendships. This not only shows the concern for their well-being discussed in the section of love, this will also make your kindness much more appreciated. This is also a tenet of "Social Intelligence."
  • Work on Love and Temperance: How love helps with this virtue might be obvious, but if you have a really hard time showing kindness you might want to humbly evaluate if you need to work on this trait. Another likely culprit is temperance, because if you have a lack of self-control and a lot of anger, you will often be unkind (which undoes a lot of kindness, by the way).

Your Record

Whenever you are rude, unnecessarily curt, or unthoughtful (without making it better) then mark yourself at "fault". If you fail to show kindness at all or you know you missed some good opportunities to be kind, then you would also mark you as at fault. When you focus on kindness, use the activities above to come up with a good regimen to improve your this trait and mark yourself at fault when you do not live up to it.

Opinions

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.

Seneca, Roman Philosopher

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.

Mother Theresa, Albanian born Indian Missionary and Winner of NobelPeace Prize

Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.

Confucious, China's Most Renown Philosopher and Teacher

Be kind to unkind people - they need it the most.

Ashleigh Brilliant, American Author and Cartoonist

You can gain more friends by being yourself than you can by putting up a front. You can gain more friends by building people up than you can by tearing them down. And you can gain more friends by taking a few minutes from each day to do something kind for someone, whether it be a friend or a complete stranger. What a difference one person can make!

Sasha Azevedo

Golden Mean

Cruelty, indifference
Kindness

Recommended Reading

The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life — by Piero Ferrucci

Piero Ferrucci, the psychotherapist that wrote this book, believes that the world is becoming more cold and hurried, and believes that kindness is the answer. In this book he explains how kindness is essential to mental help and the wellness of you and those around you, and also offers different suggestions and ideas on how to become a kinder person.

The Kindness Handbook: A Practical Companion — by Sharon Salzberg

The best-selling author and respected meditation instructor Sharon Salzberg wrote this book in order to help people direct their lives by kindness rather than cruelty and bitterness. She considers kindness more of a larger spiritual journey rather than simply learning to be nice.

Leading with Kindness: How Good People Consistently Get Superior Results — by William F. Baker, Michael O'Malley

This book is all about how being a kind leader is business management gets better results than being the cruel, selfish person we generally equate with corporate CEOs and the like. This is a good guide for anyone who wants to act more responsibly in the business world.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.



On Amazon.com

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not. Samuel Johnson
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