Genuine kindness is an act that benefits the receiver and the giver, who is not looking for a return on his or her investment of kindness. Some individuals have a hard time accepting a compliment. They may feel embarrassed or awkward. For example, Mary tells Susan that she loves what Susan has done with her hair. Susan then qualifies this kindness, by saying something like, “My hair is just a mess, I haven’t done anything to it in ages.” In her case, ‘ages’ means she still has to go to her weekly appointment at the beauty parlour. In actual fact, however, Susan is not fully appreciating Mary’s kind compliment, and as such, is not reaping the full benefits of Mary’s generosity.
It takes openness and a willingness to receive kindness and to delight in its bounty. The following exercise will help you to remember and reflect upon an experience in which someone was kind to you. Donation to a charitable society is one of the different ways in which we allow kindness into our lives.Sometimes people consider kindness as a ‘giving’ but it is also a ‘giving in’. When we are genuinely kind and promoting benefits for another and/or oneself, there is a feeling of effortlessness and a sense of goodwill.
However, if our kindness is accompanied by a feeling of loss or ‘giving in’, our kindness loses its spontaneity and we feel we must or ought to or should be kind. When this happens we can ask ourselves: “Do I really want to be kind?” Maybe at that time, you don’t. Maybe you do not have the energy or resources to be kind at the time. Being kind involves a certain realism about what one can do easily or comfortably.
Kindness is an action which benefits another and/or oneself. However, sometimes seemingly ‘kind’ acts can be cruel. For example, individuals who feed their dogs chocolates, which temporarily produce a tasty benefit, do their pets no true service particularly if their pets are overweight and in danger of becoming diabetic. Also, chocolates can be quite toxic to dogs.
Kindness is not ‘wimpish’ behaviour. Being kind does not mean as, one person said to me, “having tire tracks all across your face!” Kindness is consideration of another and oneself at the same time. Kindness involves awareness of oneself, others, and of opportunities to be kind.
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