I have self-titled writing project called The Kindness Project.
I’ve always tried to be kind, but I have to admit, for the last few years, I’ve felt drained of good will. And I been hardest on myself.
What I know so far to be truth is this: If you don’t practice self-kindness, you cannot offer sincere kindness to anyone else.
I’ve been reading about the art of kindness. Kindness is fierce- you often have to push yourself to offer this grace to yourself, and others. Have no expectations of reward especially from others. This sets up the trap of feeling like a pushover or being taken advantaged of for your kind acts. Take small steps and don’t measure them, just do the best you can. That’s the essence of being kind to yourself. Finally, if you are disappointed because someone didn’t respond to your kindness as you wished, let go of that expectation. Accept the disappointment and then let go of it. Have mercy on yourself.
After six days of intentional practice here’s the preliminary results of the Kindness Project:
- I am more in tune with my own feelings. I had a bad asthma attack last weekend and have been pretty jacked up on medication this week. I gave myself permission to feel the illness and not just buck up and keep on going like I usually do. I ate what I craved and I didn’t beat myself up for not exercising this week (other than some light yoga stretching.) I allowed my spirit to heal my aching lungs. And I feel better, even though I’m not yet healed.
- I was more aware of how I was talking to others- at home, at work, in the store. I listened for the tone behind the words they spoke. And by attentively listening, I was able to offer the kind words they seemed to need.
- I made a conscious effort to let people know how much they help or encourage me. That one gesture seemed to reap the greatest reward. We all like to hear we are not toiling in a vacuum.
- I am less stressed, less impatient with others or circumstances. As I waited for a train to move off the tracks this morning so I could get to the next place to be, I sat in silence, watched the sky turn pink and blue. I observed a flock of swallows form black v’s across the painted sky. I concentrated on my breathing. It was seven minutes of blissful time out.
- I am aware that despite all the hatred, intolerance and pure meanness that is bombarding the country right now, its real toll is masking the millions of tiny acts of kindness that happen every second of the day. I am blocking out the negative, and concentrating on searching for each little act of kindness I can extend while acknowledging kindness extended to me.
The Kindness Project couldn’t have come at a better time. We all need to be gentle and kind to ourselves and extend the grace of kindness to each other- now more than ever.