Extending Kindness, A Path to Deepen Contentment

Dec 04, 2019

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” —Amelia Earhart

It is easier to be kind when all is going well in our life. After all, the initial, unconscious understanding of kindness is extending something to someone else, thus reducing what we have or energy we may need as it is limited, but this is short-sighted.

When our lives involve unwanted, perpetual stress, our energy levels can drop, and unconsciously we may turn inward as our body needs, or should I say, wants to recharge and conserve energy. This is not to say kindness involves a great expension of energy, but extending kindness can unconsciously been seen as extra and so is not prioritized in our stressful state.

However, kindness need not be heavy in its lifting and thus require great amounts of energy; it simply asks us to step out of our myopic vantage point and understand that when we extend even the seemingly smallest gestures of kindness – a smile, an acknowledgement of someone’s presence – we actually give a gift of peace and tranquility to ourselves as well.

How? While such a moment of calm may occur in that moment, often the kindness is a peace of mind we have given to ourselves knowing we extended kindness instead of turning inward and not acknowledging, engaging in a positive manner or listening with an open-mind to others who may cross our path throughout our day. In other words, we can sleep well at night.

As well, the kindness extended, as Amelia Earhart conveys through her tree and root analogy, will stretch and extend farther and in potentially more ways than we will every know.

Rest assured, being kind does not mean you are a pushover, or should refrain from setting boundaries. No, no, no. Extending kindness includes extending kindness to oursleves as well. Kindness in the simplest of definitions is to acknowledge and put into practice that we live in a world with other human beings. To see others’ human-ness (yes, it is not a word, but the idea is made clear – when we acknowledge and treat others in a way that conveys we know them to be human beings with feelings, good day and bad days, hopes and fear, limited amounts of will-power and lacking the same knowledge about how tomorrow or the next day will turn out, we honor their human-ness).

So how can we practice kindness in our everyday lives, even when our energy is running low? Below is a list of a handful of simple, yet extraordinarily powerful gestures that have the potential to make a positive flow of energy in directions and amounts we most likely will never know.

  • Say hello with a smile when someone enters a room you are working in, or a space that is less public and a shared space.
  • Smile sincerely, and if you know the person’s name, address them by name.
  • Remember what someone shares with you and ask about it later should you run into them to demonstrate you were listening, but more importantly that you care about how something they held in high regard went for them.
  • Extend a specific compliment to someone just because.
  • Say thank you sincerely for gestures extended by others that may, by habit, been taken for granted.
  • Look out for animals, feed the birds, praise to train rather than scold to punish.
  • Make or purchase a cup of a loved one’s or colleague’s favorite morning drink to help start the day with warmth.
  • Keep your word
  • Communicate timely, respecting others’ time and schedules
  • Send a card just because to let someone know you are thinking of them, and always send a card on someone’s birthday if you will not be able to spend time with them on their special day.
  • Take that bubble bath you think you do not have time for.
  • Practice the “Zipper” method when queuing with your car during busy rush hour moments.
  • Let that other car looking for a parking spot take the one closer to the front.
  • Say “no” to preserve your energy.
  • Honor someone’s wish when they say “no” to you and do not razz them for respecting their own boundaries.
  • Be aware of what someone needs and with little fuss give it to them to lighten their load.
  • Toast or celebrate the seemingly small positive moments with those you love no matter what the date, time or place. Lift a glass, do a happy dance with them (or anything else that acknowledge the happy moment).

Extending kindness need not cost one cent; it only requires that we be present, aware and engaged with the world around us at that very moment.

Upon reflection, I can look back on years in which I was extremely stressed, and acknowledge that I turned inward primarily out of self-preservation and a need for conservation of the limited energy I had at the end of any given day. But as those years have thankfully been put into the past, I am recognizing that kindness extended need not be overly extensive or expensive in any way what so ever. And upon putting this daily habit into practice, my contentment soars as I am at peace with my behavior and engagement with the world, whether with people I know well or not at all. We simply need to acknowledge the person standing in front of us and be positive, warm and sincere.

“This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for copmlicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart is the temple. You philosophy is simple kindness.” —Dalai Lama XIV

Wishing you a beautiful Wednesday. Thank you for stopping by the blog.

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4 thoughts on “Extending Kindness, A Path to Deepen Contentment

  1. Lovely, Shannon! In our little town our grocery store has a sign reminding patrons to save the parking spaces closest to the door for senior citizens (we live in a harsh climate with lots of ice and snow 7 months of the year). I’ve noticed that I’ve made a habit of parking farther away at all stores now in order to leave space for those who truly need it. Amelia was right!

  2. What a beautiful way to begin the day!!!! Thank you Shannon! I look forward to all your post and live by your inspirational thoughts, experiences and ideas!!!!!!

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