Kindness emerges as my top value whenever I participate in any type of clarification work regarding my values. I used to think it was honesty because I think it’s important to tell the truth. However, those times when not being completely honest can spare someone from being hurt unnecessarily, I will opt for kindness. You may find yourself having a different opinion about that, but whatever you think is okay; I’m speaking about my values, not yours.
Values are unique to each of us. Even if we share the same top five values, they will likely prevail uniquely for each of us in varying situations. Values are neither right or wrong but simply represent the concepts we believe in and have chosen to guide our steps. When we live within our values, we feel great. When we live outside of our values, we don’t.
However, once we have determined the values that guide our lives, we tend to overstep, belbieving that our values are right and true and should be for everyone. For one person on the planet, they are, in fact, right and true, but for everyone else, they probably aren’t. So, I’m okay with you not having kindness as your number-one guiding value, but are you okay with me having it as mine?
As someone who values kindness above almost everything else, I’m thrilled to know that this is Be Kind to Humankind Week. I’m a little sad we need a week to be reminded to be kind to humankind, but at least there is a week. I wonder, of those who even know this is Be Kind to Humankind Week, will they be any kinder this week? Will they become more aware of the needs of others and reach out a helping hand this week? I don’t know, but I wonder.
Many people would agree they are kind and that kindness is one of their guiding values, but when they recount who they are kind to, it might be those who can reciprocate in some way. I like to measure kindness by how kind you are to people who have nothing to offer you. How kind are you to strangers, marginalized groups, children and animals for that matter? Kindness can be measured by the amount you bestow when no one is looking.
I remember when the concept of random acts of kindness was introduced. As a high connection person, I am naturally kind. People high in connection generally want other people to like them, and one fairly consistent way to have other people like you is to exhibit kindness toward them. There is also a payoff when other people learn of the kindness you extend to others—a bonus, if you will. This is what I like about the concept of random acts of kindness. If you do it well, you don’t tell anyone you did it. You know you did it and can reap the reward of knowing what you did without receiving bonus accolades from others. It reduces your act to one motivation: doing the kind thing for kindness’ sake, and no one else will ever know.
This is the spirit I recommend practicing while engaging in Be Kind to Humankind Week; don’t act for the recognition you’d get for it, act because being kind to others is its own reward.
People do not always agree on what is kind. For example, I might want to pay for someone’s groceries at the grocery store. When I offer, that person might be offended because they think I’m assuming they can’t pay for their own. Or perhaps I want to hold the door for someone and they don’t like it because they are capable of holding the door for themselves. When you decide to be kind, you need to take into consideration how the other person might feel when you enact what you have in mind. Just because you would find it kind doesn’t mean your recipient will. Take time to consider whether your action could potentially offend someone. If so, think of someone else or decide to take the risk. The choice is yours, but don’t allow that question to cause paralysis that keeps you from doing anything kind.
Maybe you could mow someone’s grass, do a grocery store run for someone, pick up extra takeout when you get food for your family and share it with your neighbor. The possibilities are endless. Doing anything other humans would experience as kind is the higher order of the week.
I also give myself big bonus points when I can be kind to someone who isn’t necessarily being kind to me. I don’t know what their circumstances are or what they are going through. People can be mean, grumpy and angry for a variety of reasons. When I remember not to take other people’s moods personally, even when directed at me, I have a better chance of being the person I want to be—a kind person. I am kind not because someone was kind to me but because I want to be a kind person all the time. That is my choice. I don’t ascribe to the Old Testament, “an eye for an eye,” but rather prefer Jesus’ teaching of “turn the other cheek.” I am kind because it’s my highest value.
Everything you do has ripples. When we go through the world unhappy, we are responsible for putting that energy into the universal energy of our planet. When we are scared or angry, that also is emitted into the collective energy we share. We are contributing all the time to this universal energy field. Happiness, love and kindness are three energies that will counterbalance all the negativity in the world.
I would like to see everyone with the mind to do kind things for all humans not just this week but every week of the year. It would be a wonderful human experiment. At the same time, I know kindness isn’t for everyone. How about you? Will you join me?