Friday, March 21, 2008

Kindness....5 reasons to do it....and 5 ways to practice it

Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind. --Eric Hoffer

The weekend is here again. This is an important holiday weekend for many. It is also a time of year of renewal, of new life, of hope.

When I think of hope, I think of kindness. Not a very big word. But one with a big result. Kindness is the polar opposite of meanness. We all know how meanness can trickle into our day and impact our lives. Kindness has that same trickle effect.

But how often do we practice kindness? Kindness is easy when you are in a good mood. But when you are sick, rushed, tired, angry? What happens then? Kindness is an act, but Hoffer's quote is right. Kindness is also a trait. Oh, to have the trait of kindness...the ability to be kind when it is not easy.

Some would say that it is a person's disposition. Simple as that. You either have it or you don't. Hoffer says different. Practice being kind and you will become kind. Shoot. I was hoping to work the "it's all in the genes" theory. You know what I mean. "I'm just hot-headed, so..." or "I'm just in a bad mood." or "I'm having a bad day, so..." But, maybe Hoffer is right. Maybe we get better at being kind by practicing, even when it is difficult. Maybe the real challenge is to be kind when the waiter is slow or the clerk can't figure out your change, or your husband accidentally ruins something, or you read something in the news that makes you angry. And maybe the real challenge is to be kind when your heart is breaking, or you are sick, or late, or angry.

There are many reasons why practicing kindness makes sense. Let take a look at why kindness to others helps you.

1. Practicing kindness when you don't feel like it sends a message to the painful and negative feelings you have. It tells them that no matter how bad they feel, they have their place. YOU have control over those feelings.

2. Doing the "right" thing boosts your own morale and self confidence. We feel good when we do the "right" thing.

3. Speaking about feeling good......kindness makes people feel good....when you send it out to others, it literally sticks to your fingers and you can't help but feel it yourself.

4. Get what you want. Remember "You catch more bees with honey?" Or is it..."You catch more flies with sugar?" Well, whatever it is...being kind to others will help you get your needs met.

5. Better relationships. Treating people with kindness improves their view of you.....your relationships will improve.

Consider, as we head into this time of hope, new life and renewal....consider your own kindness....grow it into a beautiful trait for you and the world around you.

Here are 5 ways to get there in only minutes a day!

1. Keep a smile on your face! Make an effort to carry a smile on your face. Whether this is when your kids walk in the door or you are checking out at the store, wear it. You will get a better response from the world around you and you will be spreading something positive.

2. When you are having a bad day or a rough time, go to a card store....pick out and send a funny a card to a friend, family member or acquaintance that needs a lift. It will take you out of your mindset and you will cheer yourself up too.

3. Practice a random act of kindness....holding a door for someone with a baby stroller..........look for the opportunity to go the extra mile for a only takes a second to hold open the door at the post office.....

4. Offer a compliment. Send compliments to people around you. Look for something you like about that person....what they are wearing....something they accomplished....just share...

5. Be patient. Stop tapping your foot and rolling your eyes. Take a breathe and relax. When you have to wait, showing a little bit of patience can be a kind thing to do.......

Enjoy! And try a little extra kindness this week....especially when it is hard.....see where you go....

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