Kindness BASICS

Of all the movies I have seen, the ones that have resonated most with me tend to be inspiring, feel-good movies based on true stories. Recently, I watched the documentary series, “The Kindness Diaries” which reminds me that there is still goodness during these trying times. Kindness is an important value that can be taught and modeled at an early age. When you value kindness, you are also valuing the needs of others– demonstrating care and concern for another human being. A warm smile is a universal language. What is the nicest thing anyone ever did for you? Do you remember how you felt?

With kindness, there is not an agenda to receive something in return. Just the simple act of giving is a gift within itself. Seeing happiness and pure joy during an act of kindness truly warms my heart. It also improves my mood and helps lessen feelings of anxiety. In fact, doing something for others is a coping skill as it shifts the focus and attention from one’s problems and onto the act of doing something for someone else. Kindness is contagious in that it spreads, such as the theme in “Pay it Forward”. One act of kindness such as paying for another person in the drive through is a simple yet impactful gesture. I have heard stories on how one person’s choice to “pay it forward” has led to a domino effect of kindness. I am inspired by stories of people and communities coming together to make a difference. It can become almost habitual to fall back into the comforts of daily routine and living that do not push us outside ourselves. Will you take a moment to get to connect through a random act of kindness?

Here are some basic ways to start showing kindness:
Smile. The simple act of smiling can not only help improve mood, but can impact the mood of others around you. I don’t know about you, but when I am in a room with negativity and sadness, my energy feels depleted. The opposite is true when I am surrounded by smiling, genuinely caring people.
Listen. Practice empathic listening. Learn how to listen in a way to understand how one feels. By practicing empathic listening, you can increase your ability to show compassion and connect with others through the art of listening.
Notice. Put down/ eliminate sources of distraction and be fully present to notice others. Slow down to be able to take time to notice. Appreciate those who are in your life. Take the time to notice and get to know those around you.
Offer. Extend an offer to help. Offer an ear to listen, an arm to lean on. Offer your voice to speak up for those who do not feel heard. Offer a genuine compliment to brighten someone’s day.
Give. Use what you have been given to help give back to others. Give of your time, talents, or finances.
Invite. Reach out to invite others to join with you in activities, in conversation. A friendly invitation during times of isolation and loneliness means a lot.
Repair. Take time to mend and repair ruptures within relationships. Be intentional with changing unhelpful patterns that contribute to unhealthy relational patterns.
Thank. Show appreciation for those who have made a difference in your life. Take time to communicate a heartfelt message to express this.


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

― Maya Angelou

Websites:

Books (Children):

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? : A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids Book by Carol McCloud

Listening with My Heart: A Story of Kindness and Self-Compassion (ages 4 to 8) – Gabi Garcia

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Books (Adults):

Deep Kindness: A Revolutionary Guide for the Way We Think, Talk, and Act in Kindness Hardcover – by Houston Kraft

The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World Hardcover – by Jamil Zaki

Radical Kindness: The Life-Changing Power of Giving and Receiving Hardcover –  by Angela Santomero

Movies:

The Kindness Diaries documentary (2017)
Pay it Forward (film) 2000
Kindness is Contagious documentary by David Gaz

Written by : Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC

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