No matter your religion or beliefs, your gender or age, and no matter where in the world you live, we all have one ability in common; the ability to be kind.
The word kind is derived from the Old English cynd or gecynd, which also means ‘nature’, ‘innate’ or ‘native’. Today, the word also means ‘a group of people having similar characteristics’, or a way of doing good for others. By combining these meanings, we can come to understand then, that kindness is something innate that we all have within us. Kindness is part of our nature, and it’s something that brings us together.
Kindness isn’t just a way of making others feel good however; an abundance of research now shows that when we do something good for others, we boost the levels of endorphins or ‘happy hormones’ within ourselves too. Kindness enhances our own sense of positivity, is beneficial for heart health, eases anxiety, reduces stress, and can even help us live longer. Unlike some other health-boosting practices though, being kind isn’t something we need equipment for; it isn’t something that requires a certain level of fitness; you don’t need to sign up to a gym to benefit from it; and you don’t have to pay for it. Kindness can be done anywhere and any time, as the theme for 2022’s World Kindness Day shows us; ‘be kind whenever possible’.
To help you get started on your kindness journey, read on for three ways you can be kind.
If you’ve ever practiced the Buddhist Metta Bhavna or ‘Loving Kindness’ meditation, you’ll know that it starts and ends with focusing on sending loving thoughts to yourself, before sending them out to friends, loved ones, those you’re indifferent to and those you find challenging. For many of us, it’s much easier to be kind to others than it is to ourselves. The words we speak to ourselves are usually not the words we’d use towards a close friend, and when it comes to giving advice, it can be much easier to give it than take it. Being kind to yourself however, is really where it all has to start. Without caring for ourselves, we soon run out of energy and resilience when looking after others, and being kind to ourselves also has powerful benefits of improving the relationship we have with our bodies and minds, enhancing confidence, and building body positivity. Use the Body Gratitude Deck now and on a daily basis to help kickstart your journey to acceptance and gratitude; each card reminds us that we don’t have to be ‘perfect’ to be worthy of love and kindness, and offers inspiration on many ways to show your body gratitude. Practice being kind to yourself by really listening to the foods your body needs, rather than looking at other peoples’ ‘what I eat in a day’ posts on social media (because let’s face it, spending less time on social media is definitely a way to be kind to yourself too!); Does it need more grounding, hearty meals or lighter foods? The Self Care Cookbook by Gemma Ogston is brimming with nourishing self-care recipes to boost your energy, help you sleep and raise your mood, so choose from one of her nurturing recipes to start being kinder to yourself. As well as utilising your intuition and leaning into your body’s needs, the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda also offers up a self-care practice that works wonders for soothing the nervous system and enhancing our health inside-out, and it’s known as abhyanga. Translated roughly as ‘oiling the limbs’ or ‘self massage’, abhyanga involves choosing an oil that is best for your body type, warming it slightly, then spending at least 10-15 minutes slowly and calmly massaging your body. Use longer strokes along your limbs, small circular movements on your joints, and move your hands in clockwise direction around your abdomen. The fast-absorbing ede post-shower nirvana body oil is perfect for this practice, containing warming black pepper and sweet orange oils to help you feel grounded and calm.
Whilst those we love are usually the ones we save most of our kindness for, there’s never a bad moment to show and tell someone how much you care about them. Kindness comes in many forms; we can give compliments, gifts, show our gratitude, engage in an act of service, give our time, or lend a helping hand. With so many of us being so overly busy today, being kind could mean making time to spend with your loved ones, without needing to rush or hurry, and without any distractions. Put down your phone, and pick up the School of Life Meeting Friends card deck the next time you get together, with questions on each card that guarantee meetups will be more joyful, interesting and engaging. Perhaps go the extra mile by gathering your female friends together for a Women’s Circle, showing your kindness by preparing an intentional, meaningful, healing and empowering community experience – use The Women’s Circle by Anoushka Florence to help you set up the ultimate ‘safe space’ for women to open up and be heard together. Sometimes, the kindest thing we can do is to simply offer our loved ones a hug to let them know we care for them. Hugs help release endorphins (those all-important ‘happy hormones’) as well as a hormone called ‘oxytocin’ commonly referred to as the ‘love hormone’, that reduces stress by reducing blood pressure and cortisol levels. If you’re a distance away from those you want to show your kindness to however, a herbal hug works just as well. Gift them the Wunder Workshop Bear Hug Tincture, an alchemy of soothing lavender, verbena, oat tops and lemon balm, purposefully blended with mimulus flower essence for a sense of calm and ease – like a hug for the mind and soul.
As concern grows over the health of our planet, there are thankfully more voices out there raising awareness of how to be kind to the planet. Simple ways to start being more planet-friendly include carrying a reusable water bottle or Hydro Flask instead of buying disposable plastic, and recycling anything you can’t re-use. Especially as we approach the Christmas period, being kind to the planet is something we can keep in the back of our minds when gifting. The Organic Company Gift Wrapping Set provides a Nordic version of the Japanese ‘Furoshiki’ with simple cotton material in earth tones to wrap your gifts. Instead of being thrown away, the material can be used for years to wrap gifts and spread more kindness! Research shows that the UK throws away the equivalent of 108 million rolls of wrapping paper each year, so by swapping to reusable materials, we can make a big difference. When venturing out to buy your gifts too, consider using The Organic Company Net Bag instead of plastic bags too, to be kinder to the planet. If food leftovers make more of an appearance through the festive season, wrap them in planet-friendly beeswax from Designworks Ink instead of throwing them away. Beeswax wraps are eco friendly, and can be washed and reused time and time again. For more gifting ideas, browse the beautiful collection of Yogamatters’ Sustainable Gifts to make your Christmas kinder to the planet. To boost your bonus points for being kind to the planet this World Kindness Day, engage in simple yet effective actions in your local area, like picking up five pieces of litter, taking public transport or walking instead of the car, or unplugging and switching off unused electricals at home.
How can you show kindness to yourself, your loved ones and your planet?