Acts Of Kindness Take Courage And Reveal The Best Of You
Authored by William G. DeFoore, Ph.D.
Acts of kindness make your life and your world a better place. And, they reflect the good person you truly are. Beyond that, they actually help you to evolve into the person you were born to be.
Kindness takes courage. It's easy to stay to yourself and avoid reaching out to others. Social researchers have found consistently that people are more likely to reach out and lend a helping hand during times of crisis.
Don't wait for the crisis...have the courage to act in kindness now, daily, and for the rest of your life.
There's a brief overview, so now let's take a deeper look into this important topic, and find out what's really in it for you. We will take each of the above areas, and drill down to greater understanding and some practical applications.
Acts Of Kindness For Yourself
The hardest thing for many of us to do as human beings is to be consistently kind to ourselves. You've heard others say, and perhaps said yourself, "I'm my own worst enemy."
Why do we smile and nod when we hear that statement? It is a tragedy to be your own worst enemy...since you take yourself everywhere you go, this means you're taking your worst enemy, and that just makes no sense at all.
It makes a lot more sense to be a friend to yourself, and being kind to yourself in your thoughts and actions will get you there.
Now let's dive deep into how you can be more of a kind, compassionate friend to yourself.
First, be sure you have healed old emotional wounds, which might otherwise interfere with your efforts to be kind to yourself. When you're emotionally wounded (and it happens to all of us), you tend to form a self-image around those wounds, diminishing your capacity for self love.
Then start focusing consistently on your greatest strengths and assets. If you're going to be a good friend to yourself, that's what you would do, right? A good friend is going to see you in a positive light, focusing on your most positive aspects. Do that for yourself, using these journaling exercises.
Begin encouraging yourself on a regular, ongoing basis. The more you practice this, the easier and the stronger it becomes. When you encourage yourself, you are literally instilling courage in yourself. Life takes courage, and kindness takes tremendous courage...and you've got what it takes!
Last and far from least, eat well and exercise. Think of it this way...hard gets easy, and easy gets hard. The more you exercise and eat well, the easier it becomes, and the longer you eat poorly and don't exercise, the harder your life will become. Learn about self motivation techniques here.
Meditation and spiritual practice has been shown to enhance brain function, health and happiness across thousands of research studies. This is where you connect so deeply with yourself that you connect with something beyond yourself, which becomes a resource for healing, insight, love and pure joy.
Acts Of Kindness For Loved Ones
It is about love, after all. That's why we marry, partner up, have children and develop friendships, for love and connection. Acts of kindness show love in visible, tangible ways.
Let's look at some examples of acts of kindness you can show to your loved ones, on a daily and ongoing basis:
Healthy touch - We need touch like we need air and water, but it needs to be healthy and safe. Avoid aggressive, intrusive or uninvited sexual touch. Touch each other for its own sake, with a hand on the shoulder, a touch on the hand as you pass in the kitchen, a gentle foot rub at the end of the day. For less intimate relationships, a handshake and/or a hug are almost always good.
Positive words - Start a practice of keeping a journal of gratitude and appreciation specifically for the people you love the most, Occasionally read to them what you've written, or just spontaneously tell them what you appreciate, admire and respect about them.
Positive gestures - It's the little things...think of what your loved one does on a regular basis, and plant something fun and helpful in their path. Your job is to do everything in your power to make their life easier and better, without sacrificing your own happiness along the way.
Make up your mind to create a happy relationship. This is not something that just happens, it is something you create, and then continue to create on an ongoing basis.
Acts Of Kindness For Strangers
Consider Will Rogers' statement, "I never met a stranger." All of us on this planet are pretty much in the same boat. We need our basic needs met, we have our dreams and desires, and we need each other.
Acts of service, contributions and charitable activities are good for the giver...that's you. You're not doing yourself any favors by always staying in your comfort zone and never reaching out to others.
Our greatest need as human beings is to love and be loved, and we need to give love just as much as we need to receive it.
Here are some ideas for you:
Volunteer work - If you like to get out and do something, this is the way to go. Contact your local volunteer coordinator to find out what's needed, or just go to the local homeless shelter or Salvation Army center.
Donate to worthy causes - The Red Cross, Shelter Box and many other organizations rely on charitable contributions to continue providing their services.
Sponsor a child - Save The Children and other organizations provide education and basic needs for children in impoverished areas and in third world countries. And there are many other organizations like them that may be more suited to your preferences.
These acts of kindness are ways to expand your world, and remember...it's good for you as well as the folks on the receiving end.