The Well

More On Kindness

by Andrew Shaw on May.17, 2010, under Recent Posts

In last week’s post, I wrote about how to meditate on loving-kindness and how to cultivate a compassionate mind.  This week I want to expand on the topic by discussing ways to love and put kindness into action.  Using the same categories from last week’s contemplation, here are a few examples of how you can increase compassion in your daily life. 

Towards Yourself- Before we can even begin to focus on giving compassion towards others, we must first turn loving-kindness towards ourselves.  How do you treat yourself?  Perhaps you’re really hard on yourself or overly self-critical.  Maybe you are a perfectionist and don’t allow yourself to make any mistakes.  Rather than putting yourself down or beating yourself up, try a softer approach.  Be gentle.  Be loving.  Treat yourself with the utmost care and compassion, just like you would your own child.  Allow yourself to make mistakes.  Let go of critical thoughts and negative self-talk.  Be reasonable and fair with your expectations.  Give yourself credit and acknowledge all the good things you are doing.  

Towards A Friend/Loved One-  Giving loving-kindness to those we naturally feel love for in our hearts may be the easiest acts of all these categories.  But all too often we take our friends, family, or partners for granted and forget to show them how much we love them, how much we care.  What kind and compassionate things can you do for your loved ones?  Maybe it’s supporting them when they’ve had a difficult day.  Maybe it’s helping out more at home, offering to do a chore you know they hate doing.  Maybe you can plan something special for them.  Make it a point to let your loved ones know how much you appreciate them, or write a letter communicating your gratitude, describing all that you love about the person.  Even simply expressing “I love you” more often says so much.   

Towards A Stranger/Neutral Person-  The old adage, “treat others the way you would like to be treated,” is a golden rule to help guide our actions with others.  Acts of kindness towards a stranger, or someone we feel neutral towards, could vary from the everyday sort—smiling, saying hello, offering assistance—to the more profound—acknowledging others’ humanity, allowing them to be who they are.  If we can foster respect, acceptance and compassion for each other, this world truly would be a better place. 

Towards An Enemy/Difficult Person-  Finally, we can practice compassion, love and kindness towards “an enemy,” or someone we have difficulty with.  This is undoubtedly the hardest category of people to give loving-kindness.  We can harbor strong feelings of disappointment or anger towards someone who has hurt us.  If we are in conflict with another person, one of the hardest things to do is to let go of that pain, to let go of the grievance, to let go of our position or need to be right.  But, one of the most compassionate acts lies in forgiveness.  If we are able to forgive those who have wronged us, and when in conflict, respond from love rather than hate or fear, then we can ignite a powerful chain reaction.  Compassion brings understanding.  Love begets love. 

Try a few acts of kindness this week.  Not only will you make others feel good, I bet you will feel happier too.  

 Be Well

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