Kindness. Kindness matters.
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness. It started with Indigenous People’s Day and thinking about the atrocities repeatedly performed upon native peoples in the U.S. It compelled me to think about my own actions. How what I do impacts others and the world I live in. My conclusion is that I must be kind.
When I put kindness first, I do not harm others. I can take in other viewpoints. I can have consideration and compassion for what others are going through. I can step back when I don’t fully understand something and think about how to ask questions with kindness. I am more open. I am happier because I haven’t caused pain. I haven’t let my ego or power or greed win – I have allowed love and compassion to guide me so that I can take the high road. Overall, when I am nice to other people, I just feel better.
Kindness reminds me of earlier this year when my son discovered a baby hummingbird stranded on our patio. It was stuck. It was weak and could not fly. We could not find his nest to put him back in. So, we made him a makeshift nest out of a box, some sticks, and some old socks. We fed it with a dropper full of sugar and worms and milk – a recipe we had found online. The baby hummingbird loved it’s food and grew stronger. In only two days, it had grown strong enough to fly again. I felt so full of happiness in my heart having helped to save the little hummingbird. My son felt proud of himself and I could see he cared deeply for the little hummingbird. It was hard to set it free, but we knew we had to so that it could thrive now that it was strong. The memory of taking care of the baby hummingbird still brings me joy.
The feelings that my son and I felt were because we’d been kind and caring to our little hummingbird. It turns out that kindness has actual health benefits as proven by science. According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation,*
- Oxytocin (the love hormone) – improves heart health, increases self-esteem and optimism
- Energy – you feel stronger and more energetic
- Lifespan – people feel less aches and pains and feel in better health
- Pleasure – your pleasure and reward centers of your brain light up
- Serotonin – heals your wounds, calms you down, makes you happy
- Pain – it produces endorphins, the body’s natural pain killer
- Stress – your cortisol (or stress hormone) decreases
- Blood Pressure – the release of oxytocin helps lower your blood pressure
These are benefits that I want in my life. So, I pledge to be kind to others for myself and for them.
But what about being kind to ourselves? I often forget to be kind to myself. Often, I think of others first, especially during the pandemic where my whole family is at home doing school and working. Honestly, I became totally exhausted. But, I went back to what I know from my own training – it is important to be kind to myself, otherwise, I don’t have the stamina and energy to do for my family. I had to stake out my own self-care time in order to do this. I had to say to my partner and my son, who were leaning on me for what felt like EVERYTHING, that I needed time for myself. The way I am kind to myself is that I do yoga everyday so that I can breathe and move and meditate. I do it in the morning so I can feel ready to meet whatever the day throws at me. I often do more yoga and meditation in the evening to help me decompress from the day. Another thing I needed to do to be kind to myself was to create boundaries. I needed to carve out time for doing my own work in between monitoring a 6 year old learning remotely (who needed more attention than ever before because he’s also lost his own connection to his friends and day to day activities) and addressing the needs of my partner. They had to know that my work was important, too. I had to establish routines that I could depend on, but that could also be flexible at any moment. And in the middle of it all, I had to give myself room to fumble and make mistakes and not be hard on myself. That’s another way to be kind. Allow yourself to not be perfect and not be what everyone else expects you to be. Be what you need for yourself. It’s okay to be a little selfish. Establish your own boundaries. When we feel like we have to take care of everyone, we MUST take care of ourselves, otherwise we will fall flat from the mental and physical exhaustion.
So, I urge you to be kind to yourself. Remember that you are important. That you deserve self-care and time to breathe. That way, the kindness comes full circle and the benefits of kindness come back to you.
May you have peace within,