You may think it’s cute or naive to suggest that kindness will save the world.
But I would argue that there’s no other singular shift we can make, individually and systemically, that would have a greater impact on our society and planet.*
To be clear, when I say the word kindness I’m not referring exclusively to the individual acts of kindness that have been plastered across social media. It’s all well and good to smile at passerby’s or pay for a stranger’s coffee. But when I speak of kindness, I mean it in the broadest most altruistic way.
I see kindness as: The intentional practice of being concerned for, and in active pursuit of, a good life for all.
Perhaps its semantics, and what I’m actually talking about is compassion, but I would argue that compassion is simply a deeper manifestation of kindness.
Recently, Tim Denning wrote an article here on Medium about the original free hugs guy. Denning not only discusses the depth at which a simple act of kindness can move us, but he also shared the disappointing truth that we see kindness as too soft. He states, “You might think this free hugs talk is getting all too touchy-feely — a touch too soft, maybe?”
Denning’s comment about his conversation on hugs is how we often look at acts of kindness, or discussions about the value of kindness. Yet most of us can recall at least one moment in our lives when someone showed us kindness that made a difference. It may have been life changing, or simply added a lightness to our step. Regardless of it’s size, it made an impact.
In my mind, any form of activism or work towards social justice has the same intent: To make some sort of impact, life changing or otherwise, for the betterment of all. Couldn’t we argue that this is also the definition of kindness?
Then why is it so hard for us to acknowledge the value of kindness? I’ll tell you why. Because it’s not sexy. It doesn’t make us any money, and there’s no point in bragging about how kind a person we are.
Kindness is inherently, well. Kind.
And just like getting into a consistent wellness routine can be harder than we think, so can being kind.
In order to do the hard work that kindness demands, the kindness that becomes social change, we must be willing to take on self-awareness, and that’s hard as shit.
As Deepak Chopra states in this Medium article, “We have had the luxury of ignoring self-awareness for along time, and it has given us a chance to deny responsibility for the problems that no self-aware person would tolerate.”
Kindness means so much more than buying thoughtful gifts for friends and family. It means so much more than using our blinkers when we’re merging.
Kindness is the pursuit of self-awareness with the deliberate intent to benefit others just as much, if not more, than ourselves.
As Denning stated so eloquently, “You never know what a person is going through behind the scenes. You never know what they’re missing. But you can be sure that showing an act of humanity is a great place to start.”
I’d like to say that I’m evolved enough to always remember that kindness is an act of social justice. But I too succumb to the false truth that being kind, or even discussing kindness, is soft and somehow less valuable than bitcoin or pursuing financial freedom.
Yet at the bottom of every problem we face — from global climate change to bullying in schools — there’s a kindness deficit.
It’s time to start thinking about kindness in more accurate terms. To see it as the catalyst it truly is — for our species, our planet, and ourselves.
. . .
My hope is to shed some light on the opportunities we have to awaken a deep sense of peace from within and to then use that inner peace to make the world more whole.
If you want to stay up to date with my latest posts, here and on my blog, subscribe here. Thanks so much for your support. ~ Anon
* To clarify, I’m speaking to positive impacts that move towards more equality and sustainability. Not simply change, which can go in multiple directions.
This post was previously published on Change Becomes You.
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