Mind Body Green: 5 Reasons to Be Kind
I finally stopped renewing my People Magazine subscription. It’s another step I’m taking to ingest fewer empty “mental calories,” much like saying no to a second helping of dessert. I already let go of my US Weekly subscription and haven’t had cable television in over two years. I haven’t missed either.
You may wonder: what harm could reading these sorts of magazines really do to my psyche?
I’m convinced that by reading about or watching people being unkind (or downright mean) to others, on some level we are condoning not being nice.
And I won’t do that. Being a good person matters. It is the foundational principle of yoga: Ahimsa (Kindness). And this means we practice on ourselves
1. Kindness requires less energy.
It makes good economic sense. Grudges are draining. Too much distracted energy is wasted in worry, resentment, suspicion and criticism. In the words of Jon Huntsman, “In any walk of life, a positive, upbeat outlook trumps any adversarial act. Revenge is counterproductive. Unproductive emotions limit one’s ability to move forward, to focus, to think positively, to act creatively.”
2. Truly successful people are kind.
Simply having money doesn’t equate to success. I’m talking about someone who knows how to give and receive love, lives joyfully, and attracts abundance through unselfish acts of kindness. When I gave the eulogy at my Father’s funeral, I was most impressed by how many people told me that he was a kind person. “Every day our eulogies are being written. Only you can develop the content for your forthcoming eulogy.” (That’s one of my favorite quotes, from Winners Never Cheat.)
Think about what you’d like to be your legacy. How would you describe success?
3. Kindness transforms us.
When giving a lecture near the end of his life, author Aldous Huxley said, “People often ask me what is the most effective technique for transforming their life. It is a little embarrassing that after years and years of research and experimentation, I have to say that the best answers is, ‘just be a little kinder’.”
4. Kindness heals.
Studies show that being kind is a healthy response to almost every situation. It also increases our capacity to heal. Studies have shown that children thrive when treated with kindness. Ill patients heal more quickly when treated kindly. And many have discovered an easy and effective antidote to stress: kindness!
5. Kindness gives meaning to our lives.
Kindness isn’t flashy. The news media doesn’t report on acts of kindness as much as they cover violence, war and depression. In spite of this, kindness keeps evolving in us because it makes us value our lives.
“It is tremendously important that we try to make something positive of our lives. We were not born for the purpose of causing trouble and harming others. For our life to be of value, we need to foster and nurture such basic good human qualities as warmth, kindness and compassion. If we can do that, our lives will become meaningful, happier and more peaceful; we will make a positive contribution to the world around us.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Every day, we have a choice to be kind. As Piero Ferrucci writes, “Kindness is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Maybe if we treat each other, and our planet a little better, we can survive, even thrive.”
By becoming kinder, others will remember us as someone who inspired and shared happiness. Love yourself, love your day, love your life!
Published October 12, 2012
Reprinted from MINDBODYGREEN: Your Guide to Wellness