Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, a concern and consideration for others. It is regarded as a virtue, and is recognized as a value in many cultures and religions. When we are stressed, we can come together and practice kindness to each other, or we can become irritated and hostile, forgetting that we are all part of the human race and we are all in this together. Kindness recognizes that we are all better together.

What does kindness mean to you? What do you think about some of the points below?

Kindness means respecting the values and opinions of others though you may not agree. Some of you may see the current social distancing and isolation as unnecessary. Your neighbor or friend may be following the guidelines as much as possible. Kindness is respecting their wish to stay 6 feet away, not hug them or walk up to them to talk to them when you see them.

Kindness means recognizing that when you lend a hand to others, it is because you choose to do so and not because you are forced. You don’t expect anything in return. In this time of uncertainty, you may have opportunities to help others. Kindness is helping when you can, without expectation. It’s a gift to be able to help.

Kindness means supporting the “wins” of others and being happy for their successes. When someone is doing well, you let them know. Do you see mothers finding interesting ways to entertain their children while they are home from school? Is someone taking difficult steps to do the right thing? Supporting and applauding their efforts is a kindness.

Hunkering down at home may mean that people are together much longer than they are used to. This can mean that what one person loves to do and is a way of coping with stress may add to the stress of someone else. Maybe one member of your family is soothed by loud music and dancing around the living room. Someone else needs quiet and the loud music is stressful. Different habits and ways of being can bring stress, even to those who love each other deeply.

What’s kind when people’s needs are different? That can be a challenge. There is no easy answer. Talking it out and finding a way that the values and needs of both are considered may be path to kindness. Kindness means being honest when that honesty helps to solve problems or leads to growth.

Live a skill-full life. Karyn Hall, Ph.D., May 9, 2020

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