It’s the official world kindness day. Often this has plagued what exactly do we mean by kindness? How is it different from compassion? To me, words like charity, kindness always reeked of certain amount of righteousness.
Merriam-webster gives three options, a state of being kind. Where we treat people with kindness and respect. That is another word that challenges me respect! Let’s get to it another time. But kind can also be a deed, which means there is a favour bestowed. Finally, it could mean affection.
Like it wasn’t enough I looked up the meaning of the word kind that opened the Pandora’s box.
While I mused over this what I eventually came to was, Kindness is an action, a behavioural way which others could see. It was essentially a social signal, that had affection, warmth and playfulness. This was a space that allowed us to admit that we were wrong and reconnect with others. It modelled openness and humility. It allowed us to question ourselves and stay engaged with others to promote social connections. Kindness allows us to be who we are yet be part of a diverse life, our values remain intact while we are able to accept the values of others.
Kindness, in a sense allows us to promote well being of others and if we do it without expecting anything in return it helps our well being too.
Compassion I figure is an inner experience. It can be towards one’s own self or towards the other. This embodies the quality of concern, and sympathy. It allows us to be non-judgemental and accepting. Compassion is that understanding all creatures go through pain, some suffer, some ask for help some resolve it for themselves and each is right it his or her own space.
Since humans are about doing, more than feeling and observing, kindness becomes the manifestation or the visible projection of compassion. Kindness would be something that puts a smile on the other.
Interestingly a professor of mine had a take that people tend to resent the person who is kind or overtly helpful. Specially if the help is rendered without asking, because it puts the receiver in the place of being powerless.
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” –Lao-Tzu
If like me you are sceptic then you can try these suggestions from the world kindness day summit.
Smile when you walk by others
Write positive messages on post-it notes and leave them for people to find
Call a relative you haven’t spoken to in a while
Tidy up around your house
Pick up trash you see on the ground outside and throw it in a garbage can
Hold the door open for someone
Chat with a stranger and ask them about their day
Pay for a stranger’s coffee or meal
Send a positive or encouraging text to five people in your contacts
Surprise someone with flowers
Tell a family member or friend you love them
Write a note on the receipt at a restaurant for your server
Offer to help with someone’s errands
Give a surprise gift to someone you care about
Send a kind card or note to a friend
Surprise co-workers with home-baked cookies or treats
Plant a tree
Spend less time on your phone and more time with people you care about
Organize a workplace giving campaign
Offer a classmate help with homework
Talk to someone new
Give someone a hug