How to Live Holistically in Kindness
The summer solstice has passed, summer is entering its peak, and we are moving through the last half of the year. My last blog post was about how to have a summer fresh start by reevaluating your goal progress and refreshing your motivations on your intentions for the year.
The first full week of the Summer issue of the JMB Living Journal begins today, and this week’s theme is kindness. I chose to begin the Summer issue with this theme to begin our season with a karmically beautiful concept that brings endless joy—a core concept in the journal with the intention for joy to be embodied in our lives more frequently with dedicated use of the journal. The Mindful Moment Challenge reads:
July is the genesis of the season. Summer is a season of light, activity, and freedom, with many opportunities to be kind and see kindness. Our first mindfulness challenge of summer is to begin the season actively looking for opportunities to be kind.
Define your meaning of kindness, and how you can implement it. How do you measure the significance of kindness? Is it the amount of people it positively impacts or the individual growth it facilitates in the giver? How do you work to be more kind, both to yourself and others? This could be as simple as a moment of truly listening and letting someone know that they are seen. Perhaps that someone could even be you.
Seek to find ways to be kind every day and let this intention bring you joy.
My mentality when it comes to kindness is simply, “why not?” There are never negative consequences to being kind, and it is a pillar of joy and contentment for both the give and the receiver. This is why each week of every JMB Living Journal begins with a “Kindness Karma”, a suggestion about how to live outside of yourself and take one opportunity a week to serve someone else, expecting nothing in return. While the suggested Kindness Karma for every week, may not motivate taking exactly that action, the intention to begin making kindness a part of our everyday thought process.
I truly feel as though living in kindness is critical to living a meaningful and mindful life...to live outside of yourself and see others’ and their needs, and to be in service to others. My goal in writing about kindness and instilling it in the journal is to suggest moving it from a weekly-focused intention to second nature.
I wanted to take the opportunity this week to go more in-depth on kindness, as an induction to the first week of the Summer issue and also as one of the core values of JMB Living. Kindness is like intangible sunshine: it fills up dark spaces with light, shines, and creates joy and livelihood on any day.
I have been blessed to connect with Amanda Gilbert, a leader in the meditation field, when I asked her for her permission to use one of her quotes in the Summer issue of the Journal. Amanda recently released a book called Kindness Now, a 28-day guide with an in-depth, introspective approach to teach you about living in kindness while also guiding you through daily practices, readings, meditations, and more to transform your relationship with kindness and expose you to all of its aspects.
Today I finished Day 2 of the 28 day journey, and it has already exceeded my expectations. The first week focuses on Metta - Loving Kindness and begins with meditation suggestions and reflection questions designed to help you understand any blocks you may have from self-love. On Day 1, Amanda expertly guides you to listen closely to your heart to understand your deepest wishes for yourself. At the conclusion of the suggested steps for this first day, you design metta mantras personalized for you.
My resulting mantras spoke so clearly and strongly to me that I decided to add them to the top of my July calendar as my guiding intentions for the month. Yesterday and today I repeated them multiple times throughout the day, particularly any time I felt anxious, in a hurry, etc. I’ll share them here with you as I just love them so much and they give me such a sense of peace every time I say them aloud. I’ve also found that the last one is helping encourage me to make better choices for myself - following through on exercise, hydration, and good nutrition.
These metta mantras are instilling a practice of loving-kindness toward self, and WOW, do they feel powerfully good. Here are mine, but I encourage you also to sit quietly, connect with your heart and ask your heart what you most deeply wish for yourself to establish your own personal metta mantras.
Amanda’s book is based on mindfulness meditation and looks to be a real treasure. If you are interested in taking this journey to the heart you can purchase Kindness Now here.
Let’s now explore here in this blog post, thoughts on creating external and internal kindness.
External kindness is fairly easy to create and can become more automatic when you allow yourself to spend the time and energy on it. Kindness is not truly kind if it is selfish, but an additional benefit of being kind is how it impacts the giver. Being consistently kind to others results in a mindset shift to the positive; when you are inclined to give and consider others, your perspective of the world becomes lighter and you can easily find joy by being kind.
The smallest acts of kindness can turn someone’s entire day around and enlighten them to be more kind the next time an opportunity arises—it is a never ending gift. Kindness can be personalized to the situations you come across in your daily life, but here are some broad ideas for how to give kindness:
Organizing a meal calendar with someone’s support network/community after a loss, during hospitalization, or after a baby is born.
Time - volunteer in your community, spending time with someone that could use the company, a shoulder to lean on, or a listening ear.
Donation - find a verified, ethical charity or cause that resonates with you and donate to it.
Small Acts of Kindness
Holding the door open.
Paying for someone behind you in the drive-thru.
Texting someone when you think of them.
Buying something for someone when you see something they would like.
Addressing service workers by their name.
All acts of kindness are meaningful and put good out into the world while helping you engage more with your own morality and new situations, opportunities, and dynamics. There is nothing to be lost when it comes to kindness.
Why do we find it harder to extend the kindness we give to others to ourselves? It is okay to have goals and expectations, but we could always be more kind and give ourselves more grace.
While I was flipping through Kindness Now, I noticed Amanda has a chapter on equanimity with a quote that really resonated with me for internal kindness: “Through our mindfulness and heart practices, though, just like the inevitable changing of our emotional tides and conditions of our lives, eventually we aren’t as afraid to keep our toes in the feelings of discomfort or pain” (p. 223).
Sometimes, it feels like it will take too much time or effort to extend kindness to ourselves, or we just don’t even think to do it. However, internal kindness can be just as reflexive as holding the door open for someone else when you practice it.
To be kind to yourself is to be holistic with grace. You can do physical things like bubble baths, taking time to prepare your favorite meal, going on a walk at sunset, loving your body as it is… but it is also mental and emotional: letting yourself have an off-day, forgiving yourself for something in the past, setting boundaries with people that drain you.
Being kind to yourself is more than just self-care, it is a consistent practice that impacts your everyday mindset and growth. The kinder you are to yourself, the more it will be embodied in your looks, behavior, the way you carry yourself, and the way you see yourself.
I hope you’ll join me in the pursuit of making kindness more and more at the forefront of my life.