We think of being kind as expressing empathy and compassion. It’s about helping others. To make kindness a habit, we smile, say hello, and throw money at causes. We use our best manner, hod doors for people, and pay compliments. What we don’t do is think outside the box. There’s not enough consideration for the ecosystem of kindness, and creating an environment where it can sort of grow and spread organically.
Sometimes, It’s About the Edit
Kindness isn’t always about what you do. It’s also about what you don’t do. While it’s not healthy to keep negative emotions bottled up, that doesn’t mean you need to let them run free with reckless abandon. Some things don’t need to be said, ever, by anyone. There are days when I don’t have it in me to put sunshine and happiness into the world. You can’t look at the news, or go on the internet, and encounter the rude, cruel, and willfully ignorant without having a reaction to that garbage. I’m angry, I’m frustrated, and I want to throw things at certain peoples’ heads.
I can choose to not put my negativity into the world. Some news doesn’t need a signal boost. Trolls don’t need the validation they get from people attempting to fact check, debate, or denounce them. There are so many things that I didn’t need to know about, petty, trivial things, that only crossed by path because someone else made a concerted effort to point them out to me. Stop it. Edit yourself. It’s an act of kindness to others.
Kindness Always Begins Within You
A large part of my year has been about self-care. I can’t help anyone else when I can barely manage to take care of myself. It’s not selfish, it’s pragmatic. My motivation to get proper rest, to save my energy, and to target my actions is so that I can better serve others. It’s far easier to express kindness when you aren’t cranky. It’s easier to not put negativity out into the world when you’re not cranky. Be kind to yourself so that your own happiness increases, but also to spare others from having to experience your moods.
You don’t have to be gentle all the time; you just need to know when not to be rough. It’s not about being sweet every moment of every day; just understand when not to be prickly. Small bits of kindness add up, and often its as simple as refraining from things that would increase the upset that others are already experiencing. That should be a fairly easy habit to adopt.