Kindness is a word that I think has lost its way. Here in the south, it seems that manners and charm seem to go a lot further than kindness. People are nice. People are polite. But I still struggle sometimes, with phrases like "bless your little heart", to find true kindness. Working in a faith-based organization for the past few years, I've found that being nice seems to be as important as doing excellent work, and kind is not often mentioned at all.
Now, don't worry. I still love the south, with all its cultural quirks, and I still enjoy working with people who share the same faith and mission that I base my life upon. My journey to find life-giving rhythms, as well as the constant "niceness" that surrounded me, motivated me to look further into the definition and application of kindness.
In the dictionary, kind is defined as both a noun and an adjective. Naturally, I would look at the adjective, but my eye was strangely drawn to the noun definition.
kind: a group of people or things that belong together or have some shared quality
Being kind, is not about me, but about us. The adjective defines kind as "sympathetic", which means to show concern or support for someone else. I wrote earlier about the power of ubuntu, or community, in rhythms. This "I am, because we are" notion is exactly what kindness is all about.
In my rhythms, kindness has come to play a huge role, not only in what I do with others and how I aim to treat them, but also in how I treat myself. If we are attached, connected, then who I am and how I take care of myself affects you. If I take care of my body, treat it well, and live a long life, we can share lots of memories together. This often shows up in my rhythms in the form of yoga or a walk with a friend. If I take care of my emotions and my energy, I will have energy to be able to support you when you need it. I do this by making time for things I love, like reading in a coffee shop or creating some sort of art or music. If I am kind to myself, I will have more kindness for you. It's amazing how intentions multiply so quickly. Nice is often about words, but kindness is in the everyday actions.
Becoming a kind person is good for our kind.
Starting last month, I'm giving you a peak into my own rhythms, which come from the themes of Creativity, Kindness, Wisdom and Joy. I'll tell you why those particular rhythms are so important to me and how I normally practice them. For the rest of October, you'll hear more on my kind rhythms and learn how some of my favorite people incorporate kindness into the rhythms of their lives.
How do you practice kindness to others? How do you practice kindness to yourself?