Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Milk of Human Kindness

I feel truly grateful.

Everything that could go right in my life is, and I have a feeling I know what sparked it off. It was the action of one kind person, who sent me a moving text message out of the blue. I couldn’t stop thinking and talking about it for days afterwards.

One act of kindness affected me deeply; and the more attention I gave to it, the more people’s kind acts toward me seemed to multiply. It not only put me in a good mood and made me feel special, it affected what I attracted into my life and how I treated other people. I found myself wanting to be kinder in order to make other people to feel as good as I did!

When people responded positively to my gestures, I felt great! I was actually a little proud of how thoughtful I could be. The day I slipped up and was rather mean to someone, I felt terrible. This was definitely not the type of person that I wanted to be.

Most of us readily accept the idea that it is right, from a moral standpoint, to be kind to others. From an early age, beginning with our parents to our teachers at school or even at church, we’re inculcated with the principle that it’s good to extend kindness to other people, particularly those who’re less fortunate than we are.

The wise amongst us realise that kindness has been bestowed upon us even when we didn’t deserve it. Our parents didn’t have to put up with our bad behaviour for as long as they did, feeding us and putting us through school despite our sometimes monstrous and delinquent behaviour.
What about God, hasn’t he blessed us immeasurably despite our shortcomings; and shouldn’t that make us want to be kinder to others?
But how kind are you, really?

When was the last time you did anything nice for somebody without being asked? New scientific research shows that kindness is not only good; it’s actually good for you. It benefits the recipient, the doer, as well as any third party observing the kind act!

Being kind, especially when we expect nothing in return, can make us happy over an extended period of time.

Showing kindness to those who have less than us can make us appreciate what we have. It provides us with a welcome distraction from our problems. If you find yourself ruminating over what’s going wrong in your life, try turning that attention to someone who’s obviously worse off that you, and see how fast that cures you of that particular affliction.

Kindness also leads us to view ourselves in a more positive light. It promotes our confidence and optimism; as well as our sense that we can have a positive impact on the lives of others.

For people who like to volunteer to support worthy causes, research has shown that this can not only highlight their resourcefulness and expertise, but it also gives them the feeling that they’re in control of their lives. This, in turn, promotes a sense of self-efficacy and accomplishment; and meaning and value in their lives.

Volunteering is also associated with diminished depressive symptoms and greater happiness. In a research study conducted with volunteers, it was discovered that they received a boost to their global life satisfaction that was seven times higher than that of the people they volunteered to assist. In other words, kindness counts.

Kindness can also help you to forge wonderful connections with other people. When you’re kind, people not only appreciate your good deed, they’re also likely to respond to you in your time of need. This is not to say that you should turn acts of kindness into a quid pro quo, only that despite what you may think, your kindness probably doesn’t go by unnoticed. Or, as Aesop put it, “no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

This week, try being kind and see the effect it has on you. You can start with something easy, like smiling more at other people; letting a car cut in front of you in traffic; or letting a parent with three screaming kids cut in front of you in the queue at the bank or supermarket. You’d be surprised at just how good these small gestures make you feel.

Choose one day of the week where you will perform three to five small acts of kindness for people, or one big act of kindness. Research shows that performing such kind acts over a short period of time (such as a day) has the greatest effect because it sticks out more in our minds. Continue this practice every week and watch it lift your spirits.

If you’re a naturally kind person, do things over and above what you would normally do. For example, if you normally baby-sit for your friends, offering to do the same thing may not boost your mood; whereas cooking a meal for your partner, might. The key thing here is variation. Your kind acts should remain fresh and meaningful to you.

You don’t need to look for major cause to dedicate your life to. Start with the people closest to you: your spouse, your housekeeper, your children and colleagues – they deserve your kindness too.
You also don’t have to help people at the expense of your own well-being – nobody’s asking you to become a martyr. And please don’t help people because you’re forced to, that will only make you feel resentful.

Also important is not to be condescending when you offer assistance. Think of your kind act as primarily intended to benefit you. In your mind, see the person you’re helping as they would like to be seen ÔÇô as strong and successful, not an object of pity. Don’t broadcast how kind you’ve been to a ‘needy’ person.

The milk of human happiness is kindness. Be kind, because it will make you happier.

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