What Does it Mean to Be Kind?

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be kind. Does being kind mean we let things go, or let others “walk all over” us? Does being kind mean we don’t speak out against racist remarks, or stay silent when we recognize oppressive systems at work in our communities, neighborhoods, places of work and homes?

Being kind to oneself and others goes deeper.

Kindness begins with accepting that everything is forever changing, realizing impermanence, allowing things we can’t change [e.g. death] to be as they are, and understanding that you are part of something so much bigger than the self.

Treating ourselves with kindness means looking for joy in daily experiences, but it is also means that we must value ourselves enough to speak up and fight for what’s right.

Here are some ways I’m vowing to treat others with kindness, and to treat myself with kindness, too:

Listen to others when they are speaking. Learn from them. Don’t try to solve their problems, or tell them how they should feel. Just listen and “be” with them. This especially connects with raising the voices of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people in your community.

Say something kind to your loved ones. For example, “I really appreciate that you helped with the dishes today” or “Thank you for listening, I really needed that” or “I really love the colors in your outfit”

Open the door for someone. If someone needs help, help them.

Reach out. If someone seems to be struggling when you are at the store, a restaurant, or just looks a bit down, start a conversation. Ask them, in a quiet and compassionate way, if they need help or someone to listen. If they say no, move on. But you may have a chance to impact someone’s day in a really big way. 

Recognize judgmental thoughts and let them pass. Most of our thoughts are conditioned responses, they do not define who we are [this is especially important for someone like myself, living with OCD & anxiety].

Hug. Give someone a hug [if they like to be hugged].

Invite someone over for dinner. Show you care by sharing your home, time, and nourishment.

Call a relative or friend. Hearing someone’s voice can help us to feel much more connected than an email or text which is much less personal.

Laugh, Dance, Play!

Stay active in your community. Fight to end systemic oppression. This can be through simple actions like getting involved with a local social justice organization, donating your money and time, talking to kids about difficult topics, and if you are a white person, recognizing how you are upholding white supremacy in your own life. Compassion towards others means we have to do the work!

Keep your heart open. In a wonderful book I read, the author inspired me with this simple phrase…“Don’t throw anyone out of your heart.” To me, this means to keep an open mind. Humans make mistakes. Sometimes an apology is all we need to mend broken bridges.

Set boundaries. Recognize destructive and hurtful people in your life that are no longer conducive to your well being. Value yourself enough to say goodbye. Be kind to yourself.

Every moment, every day, we have the choice to bring kindness to our actions, words, and the way we greet challenges. If we choose kindness, the world will be a might brighter and equitable place.

With heart,

April