acts of kindness

Acts of Kindness

Kindness is about generosity, consideration and empathy. In my last blog I wrote about empathy and compassion and it is how we can demonstrate these qualities in acts. A lot has been said and written lately about doing random acts of kindness and I totally agree that it feels not only good to the receiver but also to the giver.  In fact kindness ripples out and if you have been on the receiver end of a kindness then you are more likely to go on and engage in your own kind acts.

The givers of kind acts feel a greater sense of satisfaction and happiness which in turn boost good mental health and wellbeing.  There is now a Random Act of Kindness day on 17 February 2019.

The acts can range from small and unassuming to grand gestures without the need for recognition or praise.  So anything goes that is spontaneous, unprepared and done to help someone else.  It can be giving someone the rest of your time on a parking ticket, leaving a book for someone else to read, let another person go ahead of you in a queue, hold a door open or pay someone a compliment.  It stops us being self-centered and inwardly focused and allows us to be more aware of the other person.

We are more likely to do a kind act if we have experienced it or have recently talked about it so it is in our subconcious.  A friend mentioned that she had given someone a lift as he had missed his bus and the next day I was approached by someone asking for bus fayre as his car had broken down.  Normally, as it was the evening, I wouldn’t have done so but it was in my subconscious what my friend had done.  So I gave the person some money only to find out later it was a scam!  So I must admit that maybe it wasn’t the wisest thing to do especially as it was the other person approaching me.

You are in control of the kind act, so you are choosing what to do of your own free will, even if it is spontaneous.  Keep an open mind, be aware of others needs and do something because it will benefit someone else and hopefully in turn they too will pass on a kind act.

compassion and empathy

Compassion and Empathy

Compassion and empathy are two words which have found their way more and more into our everyday language.  Do we really understand what they mean and are we practicing these values?

I am still learning and integrating these two words and certainly at times I have to work really hard to bring in these emotions.

Certainly there are specific therapies that now focus on compassion such as Compassion Focused Therapy but we don’t need to go to a workshop or class to achieve compassion.

If we want to bring these aspects into our lives we need understand what they are first.  Recently I read a description that highlights the subtle difference between empathy and compassion.  In his book  “Same Soul – Many Lives” Dr B Weiss states that empathy is an intellectual approach in trying to understand another person’s feelings.  Compassion is more instinctual and comes from the heart so you can be compassionate without being empathic.

Trying to understand another person’s feeling can increase our awareness of others situations which we may have no prior knowledge or understanding of.  It can often be suggested to “walk in another’s shoes” – to understand and appreciate how the other person is feeling.

Compassion is often a spontaneous feeling and comes from the heart with actions that are based in kindness.  Both empathy and compassion take us on the eventual path of unconditional love.

It can be incredibly hard to put these into practice at times especially when you have been hurt by others but we always have choices in how we react and we choose our attitude.  It can take a lot of mental strength, awareness and inner calm to show compassion but by doing so can drastically change the whole situation.  Often it is not about changing the other person but it is about changing ourselves.  If you come from a place of compassion then you are less likely to feel anger or frustration, stress will be reduced and you can let go of grudges and bring in forgiveness.   This in turn may have a positive effect on the other person and thus changing the energy between you both.

It may mean taking time out to think and reflect quietly about a situation and then going back with a compassionate and/or empathic response.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:-

  • How would I feel if I were in their shoes?
  • What is contributing to them acting/behaving as they do?
  • If I was at my most compassionate self how would I see the situation and how would I want to respond?

Compassion and empathy are not just for others but are equally important for ourselves.  The starting point is always with ourselves and by being compassionate i.e. being kind and understanding, these two emotions and values can greatly enhance our lives and lead to the ultimate goal of unconditional love.