Human Kindness is grounded in the idea that each and every person with whom we interact with in life is inherently precious and worthy. We actually live out kindness when we base our interactions with others on an intentional, heart-felt, and authentic empathy for them.
Think about how genuine kindness is nurtured and manifested in our own lives… particularly in these unprecedented, trying, and enormously difficult times.
Are we truly ‘present’ in our acts of kindness toward others, expending something of ourselves—or are we simply giving something from ourselves? Are we authentically joining the other person in some way, even if only virtually right now—or are we emotionally withdrawing while we aloofly watch our impact from afar?
Are we extending kindness with some sacrifice on our part—or simply sharing out of our abundance and surplus? How willing are we to take on some risk or even rejection for extending kindness toward another? How much of our time and our ‘self’ is invested in the recipient, if we’re being honest?
Are we offering kindness with no expectations of reciprocation or with an underlying wish for something in return from the recipient? If it’s the latter, it may not actually be kindness… but rather an act of bargaining with another in some fashion. If it’s the former, our kindness is likely to be more real.
Is our kindness toward others inclusive and expansive, extended beyond our families, friends, and closest neighbors? Or is it offered closely and rigidly only to people who live, think, believe, and look just like us? If our circles are guarded, exclusive, and biased, it’s probably more about ‘comfortable belonging’ than it is about actual kindness on our parts.
Are we acting kindly with the right ‘heart’? With intentionality based on authentic love, compassion, empathy, respect, acceptance, care, and concern for another? Or is it only out of our feelings of obligation, guilt, or responsibility toward somebody else?
Whose needs are we really trying to meet by being kind to another person: the recipient’s or our own? Are we being kind in order to make the other individual feel good… or to make us feel better about ourselves? If our acts of kindness are grounded in how we want to be seen and not based on our true heart, maybe it’s all about ourselves and not the recipient after all.
Our acts of human kindness toward others are rarely ‘either-or’ dualisms. In other words, we’re neither fully kind nor exclusively unkind on a consistent basis in our interactions. Instead, our interpersonal encounters are often complicated and situational. This is the very nature of our ongoing, sometimes bumpy and uneven, journeys of intentionally becoming more ‘whole’, enlightened, and loving. That’s especially true in turbulant times of anxiety, loss, and uncertainty such as those we’re now facing together. Nonetheless, we can all strive to extend and receive more unconditional, genuine, inclusive, and heart-felt kindness each and every day…