An extraordinary life doesn’t result from worldly achievement, the fulfillment of your own passions or fleeting ecstatic experiences. If you reflect deeply, you’ll see each of these is a temporary state of affairs.
What might look extraordinary from the outside - like incredible financial wealth - may actually be wracked with internal pain and sorrow. An impressive job title or higher rung on the corporate ladder can be snatched away in a moment, especially in these financially unstable times. Of course, it’s wonderful if you can follow your passion, but is it healthy to think obsessively about yourself?
Kindness: The Powerful Alternative for an Extraordinary Life
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” ― Desmond Tutu
I believe kindness lies at the heart of an extraordinary life. Kindness is a powerful alternative to the get ahead philosophy of life, which won’t matter much when death arrives.
Take a moment to recall a time when kindness shifted your mood, transformed your day or even turned your life around. See how powerful it is? I'm always amazed by how a loving smile is instantly reflected back as though the other person can't help themselves.
An extraordinary person employs the magic and power of kindness to create goodness wherever they go. It's the goodness of all these tiny moments that add up to an extraordinary life.
Kindness still matters even when the impact of your good heart is not obvious, immediate or even appreciated. That’s because kindness helps to train your own mind in goodness, which ultimately brings you more comfort and ease regardless of how the other person responds.
Be Wisely Selfish
The Dalai Lama always says to be “wisely selfish” instead of narrow-mindedly selfish by practicing kindness. Kindness is wisely selfish because it helps you as much or more than the person who receives your positive intention.
Look at all the ways kindness can benefit you:
- Kindness makes you more likable. Who gravitates toward grumpy, negative or angry people?
- Kindness helps you solve problems by making you more open to different ideas and perspectives.
- Kindness can lead to a better future because you’re creating a positive tendency.
- Kindness contributes to your own happiness when you see how you’ve helped someone else.
- Kindness is more likely to contribute to your good health than anger, anxiety or low self-esteem.
- Kindness can raise your self-esteem when you see that you can actually make a difference for someone else.
- Kindness makes the world a better place. Who wants to live in a world torn apart by greed and aggression?
That doesn’t mean our kindness should be strategic or selfishly motivated. It simply shows that kindness makes sense if we want to lead a happy and meaningful life and have the same wish for others as well.
Kindness: Don’t Be Neurotic About It!
Yes, sometimes kindness can be neurotic and get you all tied up in knots. So let’s be clear that kindness isn’t:
- Trying to please others for you own benefit.
- Acting out of obligation.
- Neurotically driving yourself to meet other people’s expectations.
- Pushing yourself, your ideas or your approach on others.
When you practice kindness, always start where you are. Don’t prematurely stretch yourself thin or you’ll burnout and start to retract.
While the rare person has the capacity to give their life for another, most of us have to start small. So know your current capacity when it comes to kindness and act accordingly. Then, gently expand it, each time just giving a bit more.
Ultimately, let kindness flow from the wisdom of your heart.
Simple Ways to Manifest Kindness
“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” ― George Sand
I know you're already a good person, but sometimes kindness gets lost in the shuffle of a busy life. So this is just a reminder of the many enjoyable ways you can manifest kindness:
- Expressing love
- Showing appreciation
- Paying attention
- Giving a gift
- Offering a compliment
- Rolling up your sleeves to help
- Being tolerant
- Seeking to understand instead of judge
- Sharing generously
- Encouraging peace and harmony
- Donating to a charity
- Praising another person
- Rejoicing in a friend's success
Inevitably, you'll feel good too.
Kindness Takes Practice
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ― Dalai Lama
Kindness takes practice because we’re used to focusing upon and worrying about our own little life. But one of the wonders of kindness is that it can put your own worries into perspective and may even momentarily dissolve them.
So make a commitment and a specific plan to help you practice kindness more and more. Sketch out simple acts of kindness each week for a month. For example, try smiling at others as much as possible for a whole week. Then make a point of giving compliments for a week. Decide to really listen when other people speak the next week. Give to a charity the next week.
Kindness is the medicine we all urgently need. So don’t hesitate for a moment, get out there and spread kindness as much as you can.
You’ll have no need for possessions or fame as your body dissolves at the end of your life. All the experiences you've collected will also fade away. What really matters at that defining moment will be how you’ve led your life and the state of your mind. Fill it now with kindness and you’ll have no regrets.
What do you think? Is kindness as essential as I suggest?
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra
Image: © Sue Alexander