Be kind to all. Thoughts on kindness, featuring some wonderful guest words from Rebecca L Coates on why kindness can require both effort and strength… but is so worth it.
On balance, 2020 has so far not been particularly kind to many folks I know. One thing after another. Home, work, politics, environment, the wider world. Social media storms in teacups. Tensions mount.
Kindness is the perfect response to a world that might sometimes feel anything but kind. Consciously and intentionally putting out kindness can improve the world around you, both as you perceive it and as others experience it.
Be kind to all. Today and every day.
And thank you, universe
Kindness can be the loveliest surprise.
Kindness can bridge the space between us.*
Kindness can bring people together in the most unexpected and delightful ways.
Earlier this month, Emma Dixon shared a beautiful thread of tweets on the kindness of strangers. Emma’s tweets tell the tale better than I ever could, so please click on them to read this gorgeous tale.
Kindness can be a discipline. As with any discipline, it can be tough to maintain. Penn Jillette explored this challenge in his recent podcast chat with Tim Ferriss:
“One of the biggest challenges we face is staying kind with profound disagreement, and staying kind when a mechanism has been set up to make money and power out of hate.”
Decide to be considerate
Make a conscious decision to be kind to all. This is the first step. We can each of us make a deliberate choice to make kindness a habit.
Rebecca L Coates expressed this idea beautifully in a 2018 article for politics.co.uk, entitled Being nice is the new punk. Rebecca wrote:
“Decide to be considerate, respectful, principled, kind and generous. Be everything the establishment isn’t.”
I asked Rebecca if she might be interested in writing some words on what kindness means in 2020, nearly two years on from that original article. I am delighted to be able to present here the wonderful words that she wrote in response. Here is what Rebecca has to say…
Kindness is contagious (By Rebecca L Coates)
Kindness takes effort, and sometimes strength. This is not often mentioned. Kindness is not simply an innate quality that someone has – it’s more like a discipline, something that requires practice and cultivation.
Right now, many people are experiencing stress, anxiety and anger. Environmental worry, political tension, societal division, on top of personal stressors and widespread economic anxiety. It’s exhausting. I get it.
Social media, geared towards rewarding the extremes, can exacerbate these tensions. This creates a toxic environment in which all the stress, anxiety and anger is exaggerated, amplified and spread.
Such an environment helps no-one, despite the issue being almost universally acknowledged.
How can we begin to fix it? Well, with kindness. But just saying the words is easy. Putting it into practice takes effort, discipline and patience. It is difficult, and we are all so tired.
It’s easy to give in to the vitriol, to vent one’s anxiety and rage at injustice through little pixels of hate that spread into the ether.
It’s difficult to engage in good faith when one is being insulted and subjected to rude, aggressive behaviour. It’s difficult to see a headline or tweet designed specifically to make you angry, and then to let it scroll past. When we are overworked, overtired, stressed and anxious, finding the time and energy to help or support someone else requires great strength and effort. Convincing others to do the same is yet harder.
So why bother? Well, because the world needs kindness, and so do we.
In these stressful times, we need supportive and caring environments more than ever.
If we are to drag ourselves out of this mire, we can only do so by helping each other.
Kindness has three beautiful qualities: it’s incredibly rewarding; it’s contagious; and it gets easier to implement with practice (thankfully!)
It is a powerful force for good – no wonder it requires so much work to wield!
There is a reason why kindness is valued so highly, and why those who practice it are respected almost universally – it’s a remarkably difficult discipline to cultivate! But so, so worth it.
* As I was jotting down my initial thoughts for this post, I happened across the most wonderful piece musical meditative minimalism, via a random YouTube recommendation. I’d not encountered Joanna Brouk’s music before, but The Space Between is exactly my cup of coffee!
Joanna Brouk – The Space Between
- Be kind to all tweet image by MJCarty (using one of those emoji templates that does the rounds on Twitter every so often). Here’s the tweeted version.
- Rosa Gentle Touch, Patrick Dickson (Großbritannien, 1986) via Wikimedia Commons.
- Dazu via Wikimedia Commons.
- Rebecca L Coates portrait by Jennifer Boyd.
- Hokusai tea-kettle raccoon via Wikimedia Commons. According to Wikimedia Commons, Hokusai is here illustrating a scene from “Bunbuku Chagama, a Japanese folktale about a raccoon dog, or tanuki, that uses its shapeshifting powers to reward its rescuer for his kindness.”