Kindness – what does it mean?

Kindness – what does it mean?

4/11/2021 //

Kindness, what does it mean?

A blog by Amy R, Tutor at ILC

Kindness. What exactly IS it and what does it mean to you? The dictionary defines it as ‘the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate’, but in reality kindness is far far more than this. Kindness is the cornerstone of community and is something that anyone and everyone can show in their own ways. It’s one of the many foundations in which our society is built upon and one that, in my humble opinion, can be very overlooked.

Kindness is contagious in the best possible way. Has someone ever done something kind for you and all you wanted to do is pay it forward. Some of you may say no to this, however these acts are not always something we are aware of. Have you ever held a door open for someone after somebody else did this for you? Have you ever shared your chocolate bar with someone who has previously done this for you? Have you ever told someone that they look nice after someone paid you the same compliment? I would wager that you have, and the reason for this is kindness is like a ripple effect. By dropping a kindness stone into a still pool of water, the ripples reach far and wide and have an intense impact and I will explain why.

Research shows us that kindness has a massively positive impact on not only our mental health, but that of the community around us. Not only does it help fight isolation and loneliness but it helps to promote a sense of belonging. This in turn helps to bring around new friendships and relationships, which in turn helps to improve confidence and optimism and boost not only our self esteem but the communities as a whole. See, the ripple effect.

Kindness isn’t just something we can show others either, sometimes being kind needs to start with being kind to yourself. As humans we all make mistakes, we aren’t programmed like robots (yet!). However when we make a mistake or do something we perceive as ‘wrong’ we give ourselves a hard time, yet we would happily forgive others for the same mistakes made. As humans we observe behaviours of the people around us, so it could be argued that by being kind to ourselves you are inadvertently teaching others how to be kind to themselves….. Yet another act of kindness you didn’t know you were doing and a beautiful example of the ripple effect mentioned previously.

Being kind or showing kindness can mean different things to different people, but one of the most wonderful things is that kindness never needs to be a large gesture. Sure we have all seen videos of people rescuing stranded animals, or observed the kindness of strangers opening up their homes in the wake of devastating situations. However, by simply paying someone a compliment, letting someone go ahead of you in a line, saying hello and smiling at the person standing next to you or returning the shopping carts properly at the supermarket, you are showing someone kindness that will have a massive impact on them and the community in which you live. Remember these words, it is one thing to be taught and shown kindness, but another thing to be touched by it.

So therefore I ask you the question again. Kindness, what is it and what does it mean to you? I challenge you to show at least one act of kindness today and see what impact it has on not only you but the world around you.

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