Kindness. What a concept, eh? The government is cutting back and attempting privatisation to such an extent the country will be unrecognisable, while gangster bankers buy Mediterranean properties with their annual bonus. CEO’s of multi-nationals earn more in a year than many of us will earn in a lifetime, and I am suggesting kindness as a topic. Am I nuts?
But kindness is exactly what we need in these times. We need to be especially kind to ourselves, and from there allow the kindness to ripple outward like the ripples from a stone tossed into water. Being kind to one’s self is sometimes more difficult than showing kindness towards others. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” starts with yourself. Really. As your happiness increases, it will become easier for you to be kind to others.
There are many ways you can be kind to yourself. Starting from turning around negative self-talk to taking yourself on special dates. Make a list of the ways you’d like others to be kind to you and see how many of those you can actually do for yourself.
Years ago I worked in a florist and all day long I handled beautiful flowers and prepared arrangements and packages for other people. The shop was in an affluent district and lots of my clients bought flowers for themselves on a regular basis, and lots of them bought flowers for the hosts of dinner parties they were attending, and every now and then a very handsome man would come in and buy flowers for a special someone.
As I cut and prepared hundreds, sometimes thousands, of flowers in a day, I wished someone would buy me flowers. When I left that job, I said from now on I’ll be buying flowers rather than selling them. Buying flowers has since become my benchmark act of self-kindness. When my mother was here visiting last fall and I picked up flowers while shopping with her in the supermarket, she twitched, and started to say” “You don’t need….” then stopped. She’d caught herself. The programming runs deep doesn’t it? But at least she stopped herself from cutting down my act of kindness to myself and her, as she would also enjoy the flowers as a guest in my home.
The same goes for the best linen you never use, and the best clothes you never wear, the fancy lingerie waiting for that special occasion, and scented soaps that sit in their decorative packaging on the vanity in the bathroom. You deserve these things on an everyday basis, or at the very least, when you feel the impulse. What use are expensive linens in a linen cupboard? They will only end up with fade lines from being folded. Get them out, use them, enjoy them. Same goes for the clothes and lingerie.
Open that pretty soap you got for Christmas three years ago and use it to wash your hands! Who needs decorative soaps in the bathroom anyway, they only gather dust! I’m well in favour of eliminating anything that needs dusting.
Food is another area in which many people deny themselves. We slap together fast food meals for ourselves, while labouring over meals for others. I love to cook and have no difficulty spending time preparing a meal for myself, and often friends have remarked: “You cooked that for yourself?” Well, I didn’t see anyone else at the table, though my usual reply is: “I’m not sitting around waiting for someone else to cook it for, or to cook it for me, so I do if for myself.”
But perhaps the nicest act of kindness you can serve upon yourself, is a special date. Take yourself somewhere you’d love to go. In the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron encourages weekly artist dates, but you don’t need to be an artist to take yourself on a date. Whatever you wish someone would invite you to do, invite yourself to do it. If it takes two, you do the inviting. And keep asking till you get a yes. Just because the first person may say ‘No’, doesn’t mean the next one or the next one will also say ‘No’. Just recognise you asked the wrong person the first time, and practice makes perfect, so keep asking! Note to self: ask that guy you bumped into today if he’d like to get together. He did still have your old phone number in his phone!
Be kind to yourself and watch that kindness ripple out into the world around you and soon your life will be filled with kindness.
And on that note, yesterday the post was about Joy and I found this article by Mark Easton on the BBC site and came home and found a comment from a friend with a link to this article by Mark Williamson, director of Action for Happiness on the Guardian. Both are about the Action for Happiness, and both emphasise the importance of being kind to others as a way to extend your own happiness.
- Love is Colorblind: Burgandy Bouquet for My Colorblind Dad (apartmenttherapy.com)
- Be Kind to Yourself (patbaileylifecoach.wordpress.com)
- singara – the flower of the arcanut (parwatisingari.wordpress.com)