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The Kindness Diaries: Cultivating The Kindness Within

Updated: Apr 30


As a disclaimer, EnvisionCo Blog is reader-supported. Some links on this site are for additional informational purposes whereas some others are affiliate links (don't worry, these will be clearly marked as such). When you click through an affiliate link on our site and sign-up for a service or finalize a purchase, we may earn affiliate commissions. This of course is at no additional cost to you.


Our last two articles have helped us home in on anger and ways to relate to it mindfully. One take away that I hope you have gathered is that when we aren't forced to suppress or deny our anger, or haphazardly expressing it, we leave ourselves open to the possibility of healing. The possibility of nourishing healing emotions such as love, compassion, joy, and happiness. This is one reason we explored anger before delving into the subject of kindness. As you already may have guessed, it is impossible to experience kindness and anger in the exact same moment. And forget trying to use kindness to try to suppress anger, this only leads to breeding resentment. Stick to the tools you learned last article to manage anger more mindfully. However, on the kindness note, this article we will explore together what kindness means, what it doesn't mean, and how to cultivate more of it.



Kindness Activation System

In popular culture, we are all a little more familiar with the fight-flight-freeze phenomenon. We know that when our amygdala gets activated it sets off alarm systems throughout our brains and bodies. And we get "triggered." It is most satisfying to witness the light bulb go off in minds of my clients when I begin the same shift with them that we are about to take in this article. Away from triggers. When I shift them towards the glimmers in their lives. The things that spark their calm and their happy. It too is a whole activation system so to speak. Love, care, and kindness activate our soothing-calming systems within our brains. This system makes us feel safe, content, even playful. We were born with it, and it becomes activated each and every time that we are with people whom we feel connected with, attuned with, safe with. Each time we are kind to others we activate the pituitary gland which in turn releases oxytocin-the hormone of bonding and connection. This is why kindness is a gift that others give to us and that we can give to others. It is crucial in maintaining sound psychological health and in recovering from difficult experiences. So now to my question for you. Have you been extending kindness to yourself? Not just to others. But to yourself.



Mindfulness & Kindness Activation

We've explored mindfulness quite a few times here at EnvisionCo Blog. To sum it up, mindfulness is a practice that focuses on cultivating awareness and presence. It entails purposefully directing our attention to the present moment, without judgment. When we are able to sit in meditation, we practice befriending ourselves. We offer unconditional, nonjudgmental positive regard for all that comes up for us. With meditation we are also able to offer to ourselves the same kindness we extend to others. We just first have to notice the loveable qualities within. Now this will take some practice but using mindfulness meditation can be a tool to help strengthen the natural capacity of our hearts to show kindness to everyone, including ourselves. But a word of caution.



Kindness, What It Is Not

One of the grade school lessons we learn are synonyms (alike) and antonyms (opposite). If I were to ask you what an opposite is for kindness you'd probably say unkindness, meanness, or maybe even hatred. You'd be correct. In exploring what kindness is not, there is another sinister opposite that we cannot ignore. An imposter that masquerades around like kindness but it really isn't. Conditional love. Self-centered love. You know, the being kind for show. Or the being kind because secretly, you are hoping for something in return. I don't even know if we should call this love. Maybe attachment is more appropriate. Self-centered attachment. How to tell the difference? True love and kindness focus on the other person. Whereas self-centered attachment focuses more on the self. This kind of exchange sounds icky the way I typed it up here, right? Problem is, this isn't as uncommon as we would like to imagine. It's that, "I will accept you if..." or the "I love you, therefore I need you to..." commonly seen in our long-term relationships with our partners or in the ways in which we interact with our children. Real kindness involves we unconditionally accept others as they are without forcing our vision of who we think they need to be onto them. We not only have this issue towards others, accept them based on their meeting our standards, but we also do this to ourselves. Only practicing self-acceptance if we meet certain standards (who we should be, how we should act, or how we should look). This too is imposter kindness.



Kindness, What It Is Really

When we hear people speak of a "scarcity mindset" we generally only think of it in terms of money. However, there are those out there that treat kindness in the same way. This is why we see so many, "tit for tat" like situations. Where people are measuring how kind or compassionate they are to others based on what they get in return from others. Don't believe me? Search for any number of posts on social media and read the discussions around dinner dates (he pays so she puts out vs. going dutch vs. coffee dates) or the discussions around people, "no longer bending over backwards for people who can't reciprocate my energy." This isn't true kindness. Kindness and compassion aren't something we have to measure out of fear that we will run out. Kindness is only as scarce as you make it. It's a mindset. However, you cannot fill others from an empty cup. In the context of kindness, the more kind you are to yourself, the more kind you are able to be towards others without worrying about reciprocation. You are your own reciprocating energy.



Cultivating the Kindness Within

Kindness is a heart condition. It involves wishing happiness for oneself and for others. It's not just celebrating the happiness of others, but it is also helping to create the conditions for happiness to arise. This is not as easy of a task as we would like for it to be. Afterall, we as humans experience a range of emotions from positive ones to negative ones. No one is "on" all the time. No one is happy all the time. No one is calm all the time. Nor is there an expectation that we be because by this point, you have learned that the principles of mindfulness require noticing and accepting the full spectrum of our emotions-without immediately trying to change them but instead befriending and getting to know them and the purpose they serve. Only then, can we shift and have the spaciousness required to practice more positive emotions such as kindness. And true kindness is definitely a practice that requires us to work at cultivating it. Here's two exercises to get you going.


Exercise 1: Gratitude Diary

An important step to cultivate kindness in our lives is to first connect with our sense of gratitude and appreciation. Doing this helps clue us into what is working for us, what is going well in ourselves and others, what is beautiful in our environment, and what is beautiful in the people around us. When we are able to examine our inner and outer world with this type of focus, we begin to savor the blessings that are already present and helps increase our abundance mindset. Each night for the next seven days, write down 3-5 things people, or events, that you feel grateful for. These could be the things that you feel went well in your day, or the beauty that you observed that day, or the positive qualities you noticed in yourself or in others. Complete this exercise right before falling asleep. If you happen to forget one night, no worries. I always do it the very next morning. As you do this exercise, I want you to notice how your intention to find something to be grateful for affects your mind, mood, and perceptions.

After seven days, reread the full list of things that you identified that you were grateful for. What did you notice? Anything make your list that surprised you? We'd love to hear about it in the comment section below. Now on to exercise two.

Exercise 2: Eye for Beauty

Beauty is only skin deep is a saying that means that a person's physical appearance does not determine who the individual is. Your challenge over the next seven days is to look for beauty and goodness in unexpected places. We are not looking for the aesthetically pleasing here. Take the people you normally dismiss as ordinary, ugly or uninteresting and find something unique and beautiful about them.

After seven days, reread your entries. Did you discover something about the city bus driver, the mailperson, the barista at your favorite coffee shop that you had overlooked before? We'd love to hear about what you noticed in the comment section below. The key element here is to see others the same way you would like to be seen by them.



Kindness is a condition or quality of our hearts. It brings a smile to our face when received from others. When we establish a kindness mindfulness practice, we begin to realize that the happiness that kindness brings to us from other people can also be brought to us from us. The more kindness we extend to ourselves, the more "true" kindness we able to extend to others (without worrying about their reciprocating). Take exercises one and two and see how you can fit them into your life not just over the next week but also as a regular part of your life. See if you can invite the attitude of kindness as a cornerstone for the way you live your life as a whole. No matter if things go right, or things go wrong, or if you get exactly what you want, or you don't get anything at all, examine what it would mean if you led with kindness. But as we have encouraged before-wherever you are on this wellness journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading!


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"Kindness is not an act, it's a lifestyle." ~Anthony Douglas Williams


 

Here at EnvisionCo Blog, we try to keep ads to a minimum making our blog entirely reader-supported. We may feature links on this site for additional informational purposes. From time to time, we may feature other links which are affiliate links (and these will be clearly marked). When you click through an affiliate link on our site and sign up for a service or finalize a purchase, we may earn affiliate commissions. This is of course at no additional cost to you. However, if you like what you see and would like to make a donation to help us keep ads to a minimum, we would greatly appreciate it! Nothing fancy. We accept the price of a cup coffee with as much gratitude as we would the price of a tank of gas!



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